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Without acknowledgement of local culture, no (inter)national change!

More and more often, multi branch or multinational companies ask for uniform ways of working. This to monitor (multi) national branches’ performances and govern on critical performance indicators. In case of required change, very often templates for change are being made in head offices, from an assumed cost efficiency perspective, with the idea of rolling out these templates in all branches concerned.

As far as structural elements are concerned this could be highly effective. Products or services are very often backed up by central ERP support. Very often system software has been developed with such flexibility that local requirements can be integrated without frustrating HQ governance on leading performance indicators. Local usage of processes and protocols can be analysed and benchmarks can be used for continuous improvements and corrections where ever. So far so good!

Sustainable change however, can only be achieved by full adoption and ownership of the people involved. For this reason, apart from a bottom up approach, an integral approach of structure, culture and IT is necessary. Already on a national level there are many differences on the cultural side that effect change readiness or effectivity! Different social aspects, as for example the level of unemployment in certain areas, influence the behaviour of individuals and groups. Also different backgrounds in religion or nationalities may influence for example the level of acceptance of authority and directivity. Ignoring these aspects may lead to disappointment in the achieved results or the level of success in governance.

By anticipating on this change complexity in an early stage, and involving local people with their own cultural requirements, the basis for effective improvements is set and all that is needed is management being aware of the required support in the process.

In the case that change management skills are not (yet) developed in the management team external assistance (either training or interim support) is a serious option to guarantee the assumed effects of the changes for improvement. The Brown Paper Company offers you all kinds of supports in this field.

Oscar Aantjes, Senior Change Expert, Publisher and Partner at The Brown Paper Company.