For the past 18 months I’ve been working on a globalization strategy on behalf of my company. Ultimately the strategy resulted in a partnership with a company based in Italy with dual headquarters in both Rome and Milan.
In November 2010, the “Alliance” was ratified and our organizations began to work together; with our team traveling to Europe twice and members of their team coming to the United States last year. However, in between the email, Skype, virtual calls, business plans and time zones, an opportunity developed that has changed the meaning of “Going Global,” at least for me.
Several months ago a colleague from our global partner informed me that she would like to take her holiday here in the United States, working at our office for the entire month of August. Her plan was endorsed by her company but mostly driven by her own interest to learn our business from our perspective. She also insisted that her 20 yr. old daughter and husband remain at home. This was to be her experience.
She arrived this past weekend and is spending the first week in my home with my wife, my two daughters and my mother-in-law. We’ve only spent two days together but so far she’s been exposed to my niece’s sixth birthday party, my two daughters knocking on her door at 6:30 a.m., and a day in-the-life of me at work, which isn’t all that exciting.
Anyway, as we sat around the dinner table tonight, sharing stories of work, family, and of course, favorite dishes, it occurred to me that we, as a global community, have yet to integrate the “personal” element to going global. We’ve successfully discussed the notion of work-life balance across several disciplines; we’ve spent ample time on the diminishing walls between the public and private spheres; and we’ve embraced the notion of personal and professional brand and how they’ve almost become one. Yet, when we consider “going global” we rarely entertain the notion of how we can integrate the “personal” with our global colleagues to the point where it assists or strengthens our global strategy.
There was never a question that our colleague from across the Atlantic would stay at my home and the home of several members of our team. It’s the culture we’ve developed at our company – professional yet personal, and it’s what we prefer. However, and even after just under 48 hours, I’ve begun a journey toward gaining a better understanding and perspective on our global partnership, as well as our partnering company’s approach to business, through this personal approach; a perspective that could not possibly exist had this person not been in my home, with my family, under my roof.
I have never been involved in “Going Global” discussion or strategy session that has involved a mandatory colleague exchange program or an element, objective or tactic that included the “personal” piece but perhaps it’s time we re-examined our approach. After all, there’s nothing that replaces the in-person meeting and there’s no better way to solidify a relationship than at a kitchen table.
If anyone has experienced a personal element to a going global strategy please share your experience here. In the meantime, I’ll continue to listen and learn as my house guest continues to share and work alongside my wife and I at 10:08 p.m. – laptops open.