Risk and Resilience in an Intercultural World
April 20, 2011
We recently returned from the SIETAR USA Conference in Denver Colorado, and this was the theme. SIETAR stands for the “Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research” and there was a fascinating group of people from around the globe who think about the impact of diversity on how we live and work in today’s world. Sue did a presentation on behalf of Keys 2 Culture entitled “Global Teams: Working Across Time, Distance, and Culture.”
Now you might wonder what Risk and Resilience have to do with Global Teams and K2C. Well - actually a great deal!
Risk: Global teams are a reality of today’s world of work. For those organizations that employ them successfully, global teams represent a key competitive asset: cost savings; reduced travel time; increased productivity; access to the best global talent pool; shared resources; expanded work day; increased innovation due to diverse perspectives, etc. Those organizations who can harness the tremendous potential of global teams will lead the way to the future. However, there are also great risks inherent in these teams. It is reported by many that such teams suffer especially from communication breakdowns; frustration; loss of trust; ambiguity, delayed work product; cost-overruns; passive resistance; and the “out-of-sight / out-of-mind” phenomenon. These challenges are more difficult to resolve in distributed environments than face-to-face, so often are buried under the “virtual” ground only to make matters worse. In many ways, our lack of finesse in dealing with global teams effectively is due to the fact that technological advances have thrown us headlong into a new sociology of work, and we hardly have had the time to catch our breaths and prepare people for what it takes. And because there are very few people who are already experienced in this new, risk-filled world of work, global teams are especially vulnerable to failure.
Resilience: Let’s face it – this genie is not going back in the bottle. And we are, in fact, beginning to understand some of the factors that make for successful global teams. We also know that trial and error is not likely to lead to smooth sailing. In fact, one of the things that we do know about these complex teams is how critical start-up can be. That is, carefully planned and managed start-up based on emerging success principles. So, in order to build resilient global teams that can withstand the inevitable challenges and bumps of working across time, distance, and culture – we must consciously prepare people for the new sociology of work. We must support them with the competencies and knowledge that is needed. Technical skills are a necessary but not sufficient requirement for success. At the heart of our work in K2C is a plan to address the team and individual competencies that are required for the development of resilient, highly functioning global teams.
Diane and Sue
Sue teaching "Global Teams: Working Across Time, Distance and Culture" at the 2011 SIETAR USA Conference in Denver, Colorado on April 14, 2011.
Sue and Diane at SIETAR in Denver - Colorado's Mile High City.