Transnational organisations are commonplace. Many top brands have a global presence.
How do they cope with the variety of custom and practice in all of the different countries in which they operate?
Some American companies have had a tendency to attempt the Genghis Khan model of expansion. By this I mean that they tended to believe that Truth, Justice and the American Way are best and easily transplanted to every country of the world.
I've worked with American companies that started to stray from that model when the CEO was recruited from another English speaking country and not the United States. A relaxation of viewpoint gradually led to a dawning realisation that indigenous leaders might do better running the business in each country.
What followed was a tussle between aspects of the business that needed to be consistent across the world and those that could be adapted to fit the customs and culture of the local environment. Some found that management information systems could be homogenised and that some product development, brand management, marketing and sales needed to be adapted to the local market.
Why set yourself up for a fight that you will surely lose? Think about what you need to unify and run an efficient business and where boundaries can be relaxed for greater effectiveness.
This is one of my favourite examples of innovation in altruism led by Dr Sugata Mitra. I heard Hole-in-the-wall discussed on Radio 4 in the UK and a senior manager of Microsoft insisting that the only way to spread education to rural areas of India was to build schools and recruit more teachers.
I prefer to defer to local knowledge of IT specialists and educationalists in India.
Dr Mitra concludes with 4 points:
- Remoteness affects the quality of education
- Education technology should be introduced into remote areas first
- Values are acquired: doctrine & dogma are imposed
- Learning is a self-organising system
He proposes that education should develop its own technology specs to tackle remoteness, values and violence.
He calls his system: Outdoctrination.