Sep 05, 2014
By Candi Chen
My first project in the consulting world was in the United States. The project was for a large U.S. customer and was staffed with a team of more than 150 Americans. We all worked in a U.S. office with little travel (and if we did travel, it was to another U.S. office). The product solution itself was American and delivered by Americans.
Nowadays, this has greatly changed. But we consultants love change, right?
Over the last ten years, I have not been on a single consulting project that did not include people, offices, products, and solutions from multiple countries around the world. The last project I worked on involved a European client with staff from over 20 countries. The customer was a German MVNO, the chosen solution was a Chinese product, the consulting firm was American and the development and testing were done by people in China, Romania, India and Germany.
It seems one thing is for certain – if you are setting up a program/project (which nowadays surely will involve some aspect of globalization), you must make sure the Program/Project Manager plans for the cultural factor.
It was clear from the start that the project would entail enormous cultural challenges between the West and the East and many in between. Like any good program, we engaged in cross-cultural training workshops and activities. But when all the fun and games were done, real life started and we encountered cultural barriers every single week across the life of the project.
Is there a solution to this challenge? Are there best practices to avoid these issues? I’m not so sure. We can engage in all the cultural training exercises and try to be more understanding of all cultures we work with, but at the end of the day, if the project is behind schedule and over budget, that is a fact that is clear across all cultures. Being understanding under pressure is not so easy.
It seems one thing is for certain – if you are setting up a program/project (which nowadays surely will involve some aspect of globalization), you must make sure the Program/Project Manager plans for the cultural factor. This means activities should be planned with additional time and review cycles to overcome the cultural barriers and misunderstanding that can arise. We are all working hard to achieve the same common goal. It’s how we decide to get there that raises the globalization challenge.
Globalization is inevitable. It brings the exchange of goods, knowledge, products, people and culture closer together. With globalization happening in most industries across the world, it really has hit the consulting industry as well. How have some of you managed the cultural factor risk?
Ms. Candi Chen was General Manager EMEA at Excelacom. As General Manager of EMEA, she had overall business leadership responsibility and manages sales and delivery for Excelacom’s European operation.More about Candi
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