Cross cultural business skills

Many people believe that translating a document is enough and that explaining a product in the right language will be enough. How wrong can they be?

Many brands, many companies have tried to do JVs or purchase companies outside their home soil and only 2% of them have succeeded. Examples like Daimler/Chrysler; Sony/Ericsson; Sony/BMG… can testify, it is not easy to do business in a foreign country and the language, being one element, is not the problem.

Different cultures mean different ways to do business, different ways to approach an issue, solve a problem, different ways to manage staff and different ways to manage the financial accounts. Are other cultures wrong because they do things differently, absolutely not!

This is the reason why companies that decide to do business outside their culture need to adapt. Yes first they need to understand the language but most importantly they need to trust locals and understand their way of thinking. This is good for all cultures. A German company cannot impose its way of working to Americans, an American company cannot impose its direct approach to a Japanese company where consent amongst managers is the key and a Japanese company cannot impose its way to a Swedish company. How could a socialist culture succeed in a country where individualism is king?

The secrets? Communication, flexibility, being humble, respect, understanding of the goals and yes last… language skills.

Stay tuned as I will be analysing in the next few days companies failure to develop outside their borders…