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Unite! 10 steps to unite a global company

Share of Global GDP in 2011

The bigger your company, the more important it is for you to take advantage of your scale.  First read the experts’ advice:

Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company)  http://www.strategy-business.com/article/11308?pg=all
Harvard Business Review http://hbr.org/1999/01/what-makes-a-company-global/ar/4
McKinsey & Company http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/the_global_companys_challenge
MITSloan Management Review http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/building-your-companys-capabilities-through-global-expansion/

The academics and consultants offer big words, not practical advice. How do you start making your company more effective globally today, while reducing risk and cost?

In short, leverage the Internet. If your company existed before 1994, you built many local offices around the globe to handle almost every task. Since then the Internet has become global, reliable, fast and cheap. Most tasks can be done faster and cheaper via the Internet than in person. Most consumers and business partners prefer the efficiency of connecting via the Internet than having to physically connect. Most tasks and jobs can be handled better and faster globally, via the Internet, than by duplication at each location.

It’s likely your local headquarters have become local fiefdoms, expensive duplicates fighting each other for the resources to leverage the global Internet, fighting over increasingly global customers and partners, perhaps even fighting the shift from physical-local to digital-global, a drag on your organization.

Here’s how to unlock the barriers that separate your company:

  1. Make every employee ID badge work to unlock doors at every office. Don’t send the message that outsiders aren’t welcomed here.  If your facilities departments can’t do this, reorganize them.
  2. Have a fast and reliable network (intranet and extranet) that connects everyone in every location. Not only does this make everyone productive the instant they walk in the door of any office (or coffee shop), but connection powers both collaboration and high ROI automation. If your IT departments can’t offer high quality global infrastructure, reorganize them.
  3. Turn your many employee directories into a prized (online, global, unified) yearbook with pictures. Encourage everyone to post more pictures and fun and useful info on every person and team. Add tags to make searching easy.  For extra credit, use simple games to introduce global counterparts. If your HR departments can’t do this, reorganize them.
  4. Make plain how the global organization works. Make org charts timely, accurate and available to your people and systems. Global automation is great, but any automation requires automated chains of approvals. These in turn require a trustworthy global org chart.
  5. Value making friends and building allies across all units. Use videos calls (Skype is free) and video conferencing (Gotomeeting is excellent). Encourage international travel and international expert groups. Build trust in global counterparts by seeing them.  An investment in global collaboration infrastructure (aka the Internet) beats being stuck with expensive regional duplication and counterproductive internal feuds.
  6. Embrace ‘Big Data’. Unhide data across units. To minimize territorial isolation, remove information silos between global counterparts. Don’t rest until accounting and ROI is global, not simply local. If your finance departments can’t do this, reorganize them. Once you have global ROI’s for your products and services, flow resources from low ROI areas to high ROI areas and areas with promising futures.
  7. Coordinate marketing assets, plans and schedules globally. Remember that the USA is only 17% of the world market, the EU only 18%.
  8. Don’t drive your global suppliers and partners crazy by forcing them to work separately and differently with your regional units. Maximize the ROI of Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Sony, eBay and other global platforms with global partnerships. Unify and streamline your web (both B2B and B2C) and mobile presence globally. Reorganize local units working with these global resources to also be global, to avoid confusion, duplication and drag.
  9. Recruit and promote people who are effective at cooperating outside their own local organization. Grant individual and team rewards for working globally. Remove incentives (or people) that make local success more important than global success. If your executives won’t do this, hire new executives.
  10. If you are the CEO, don’t implore your company to act more globally, change it so it is truly global.  Reevaluate whether jobs and responsibilities are handled best globally or locally. To start, replace local kings that subvert your global mission so they can retain their pre-Internet kingdoms.

Before the Internet we assumed that organizations and jobs were local, with a few exceptions. It’s time to reverse this assumption, to make your organizations and jobs global, except for the immobile parts: Physical distribution, physical services, non Internet media and compliance with local laws and regulation. Unite to win!