Cultural Rules and the Global Economy

Between Milford, Ohio and Barcelona, Spain we have thousands of miles for you, kilometers for me, gallons of salted water for you, liters for me, pounds of earth for you and kilograms for me…

We have different ways to talk about the same thing, but sometimes for different things we try to use the same way, what is a common mistake…

In terms of business, like the stone falling on the water, any new project will have an infinite number of concentric circles. The stone can be bigger or smaller, but always will generate a wave, big or small as well.

We will always face a person, with a better or worst day, with more or less problems, at home or at work, it doesn’t matter, with a culture, an education, inside of an organization, with a culture and an education, sometimes with people above, sometimes under, sometimes both, in a county of a region in a state of a country integrated with the economy of 28 other countries, with special regulations at different levels, different languages, different cultures…

Too complicated to be true? This is every single day of a sales in a global economy. Sometimes with more or less circles around each project, but this is the cruel reality nonetheless.

In this scenario, it becomes fully necessary having an internal decoder, armed with miles of knowledge, gallons of passion and pounds of personal skills, but also kilometers experience, liters of patients and kilograms of attitude.

How do you face this? It is easy, we build a rules structure trying include what we consider is “general” or “normal”. With these rules we don’t need to think about processes (internal or external) and we can be focused on what it is important: making a global impact.

But what happens when it is out of what we consider “normal” in our home culture, but acceptable in others? Here is when we need to show how flexible we are. It must not be a drama. This is life, different people thinking different. However, it’s important to keep the mission in mind and work towards a common good for ourselves, fellow man, and planet.

Being flexible is not meaning breaking the rules, because within these rules there are some red lines we must never cross in any culture, but we need to adapt ourselves to the situation. If we just can see the shadow of a tree is covering us, we will never be able to see the forest. We need to balance our flexibility with the opportunity cost and the risk it supposes.

So, if you know the rules, because they are yours, and within these rules exist the red lines, it is just about how flexible you are to get the job completed. And everyone has their own way, their own flexibility. There is no miraculous recipe, just training your own flexibility to convince the Polish mechanical contractor and the French end-user with different arguments to be a collective success, because they have diametrically opposed interests for the same product or solution.

To be truly global, you must be global in your thoughts and open to cultural norms wherever you may go.