One of the most commonly recognized and interesting consequences of Internationalization is that Enterprises become, on a medium term, far more competitive than those who focus on the domestic market only. Internationalized companies have better structural indexes, not only in dimensional terms but also better productivity (added value per headcount) and working capital. This margin usually grows with the growing size of the enterprise; however, evidence shows that most of the exporting micro-enterprises too have a relatively better labor productivity than small enterprises that focus on their domestic markets only. Internationalizing has consequences on the individual roles and responsibilities and often on staffing in our legacy domestic markets. In a relatively short time, as more and more individuals are personally involved, the process becomes sustainable only if it based on a Resonating International Enterprise Culture. What does this mean?
Recognizing and making the most of diversity:
Operating outside the comfort zone represented by the domestic market, requires first recognizing and leveraging the unique specific characteristics of the people and markets we are engaging. It is of vital importance to actively listen to the signals coming from these new worlds avoiding judgment and interpretation. Simplifying by generalizing or replicating solutions that we have learned work domestically may be a fatal mistake. The world is not simple and uniform, on the contrary its diversity is one of the main reasons why we want that change: moving away from inwards looking to become outside engaging.
Putting company’s emotional intelligence at work:
Internationalization is ultimately a deliberate growth process. In this process companies use and train the entire corporate potential, stretching people (starting from the leadership) beyond their cultural frames, their professional and personal capabilities. For the ownership or management, people that have a strong desire for self-realization, Internationalizing may be an opportunity to exercise their leadership aligning the entire company on an exciting group’s improvement and growth plan. The rest of the team might not necessarily see the project in the same way. On top of our products, know-how and processes, excellence at work will be measured on new qualities like initiative, empathy, flexibility, self-confidence and persuasion. Putting at work company’s emotional Intelligence will be as important as our tangible assets.
Owning the project and enjoying the journey:
Many existing and prosperous International companies demonstrate that growing by Internationalizing is possible provided that the project is well designed and prioritized, widely accepted and individually pursued. Outsourcing parts of this project is possible, but the risk is to hide and defer the changes companies have to internalize to evolve into a true International company. In Internationalizing, like in any other competitive activity, the real growth is not exclusively in the exciting results enterprises reach but also in living the project, autonomously establishing goals and enjoying executing plans of actions. The more companies learn the more they succeed.
As culture sustains execution and any strategy is as good as it’s execution, one of my best business coaches used to say: ‘’Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’’. A true International Corporate Culture belongs to its true intangible assets. Not only it affects the way companies go to market but in time it permeates its brand making the company a unique place to work.