Business does indeed make for some strange bed fellows. Who would have thought that India would become manufacturers of Jaguar and China the makers of Volvo, when neither country has ever produced their own automobile? The King of Beers, Budweiser and Anheuser Busch are now owned by a Belgium/Brazilian firm. Yes, it is good to be king!
Today’s market is truly global. The recent depression certainly left an impression on the global marketplace. It only proves how much of a global impact one economy has on the other. As we speak Greece is being bailed out for the second time and must privatize to the tune of 71B Euros. Will Spain be next? Yes, the world is a much smaller place and there is a cause and effect on business dealings. And, while the stakes are high, big business continues to operate as usual routinely wasting billions of dollars in the process.
After decades of off-shoring, strategic alliances and political hook-ups the process for conquering global business around the world has not changed. They still follow the one-message-fits all strategy. Product launches and campaigns are designed in the U.S. and cookie-cuttered for use in global markets such as China, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. Even when translated often the message is misunderstood. All cultures process communications differently. So, often it is not so much what you say, but how it is interpreted.
Recently one large company brought 25 employees together in a leadership training session each representing a different culture. They were asked to form teams december global holidays of five to address how to handle an upcoming customer communications. Prior to adjourning they had to agree to a common approach. While the individuals were given the exact same description and wording each understood the message differently. The result was no consensus or in legal terms a “hung jury.”
Another Fortune 100 corporation hosted the second in command of all of China and 120 government officials. During the event it was agreed to play a video with a capabilities overview of technologies off-shored to China featuring the company’s CEO. The CEO planned to have the video play in advance of his speech with the delegation. Upon hearing of this activity the government officials announced this would be unacceptable. In China, it is disrespectful to be in a video while in-person with a delegation. Suffice it to say, the final video did not include an image or likeness of the CEO. I wonder how movie stars fare at Chinese movie premiers?
Reversing the Call
Call centers have proliferated in India due to their low cost. But now many big businesses are reversing the call due to high turnover and inefficiency. Consequently, call centers in India are slowing relocating to the states as frustrated consumers and employees drive up the costs by repeating calls because of the poor and miscommunication by the call center employees. What once was a bargain now is a liability.
Manufacturing too is starting to see a reversal. Several companies such as GE and NCR and others have announced plans to bring jobs back to the states due to large cost of training and labor. Poor communications have made what was thought to be an easy transition into very slow startups and extremely low productivity. Many of these corporate transitions have turned into red ink for years to come.