Lessons from my trip around the world
Every year I promise myself I won’t take 3 week business trips anymore, and every year I break my promise. My recent trip took me interesting places: Poland, Israel, Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia. Both Poland and Philippines were new to me.
Whenever I travel overseas, because things around me are unfamiliar, all of my senses are usually on high alert. I notice more than I usually would. Every time I do a trip such as this, I am amazed by two things. First, how similar many of our problems are (at least in business, perhaps not socially and politically) and how universal many of the solutions can be. Second, in contrast to the first lesson, how you also must understand the strengths and weaknesses of the culture you are a part of and build your transformation strategy to accommodate those unique elements.
Every culture has, when it comes to lean or business excellence, has some unique characteristics that help or hinder. Some cultures are more disciplined and others less. Some are better at being open and candid, and others more closed and reserved. Some cultures center on respecting the hierarchy and others on individual decision making.
My observation is that when people do consider their own culture, they focus more on the challenges that their culture presents instead of focusing on the strengths. Yes, you must be aware of both, but understand and leverage those strengths. For example, in one of my visits I was told “we’re very independent minded and undisciplined” but the other side of that coin is often innovation and willingness to experiment.
Every country or company culture has its strength. I propose that its more valuable to emphasize and leverage those strengths than to focus too much on the weaknesses.