I’ve seen many presentations about working in a global business that start with the same kinds of information you find in a travel guide: languages, currency, holidays, maps. These are very important details for anyone working with people in another country, but we often overlook other elements that are equally, often more important, when we are working in a business together.
In an era when something like three-quarters of the world population, and three-quarters of economic growth, is in developing economies, it becomes essential to understand the differences in economies, infrastructure, education and workplace practices. When you travel as a tourist, you want to understand the differences in electric voltage and plugs; when you work with colleagues in a developing country, you want to understand how often electricity is available – in the workplace and in their homes. And then you want to understand how this impacts your ability to hold a project meeting via conference call, at different days/times, and how to manage communication gaps that may arise from issues with intermittent electricity.
My colleague, Matt Sullivan, and I will be speaking at Northeastern University tonight about management skills for working in a global business environment. If you’re an alumni of Northeastern University, we hope you’ll join us.