How Rakuten turned into a Global Giant - Language and Culture Lessons for Companies with a Common Business Language

How Rakuten turned into a Global Giant - Language and Culture Lessons for Companies with a Common Business Language

By: Nita Korsten

For years I have been intrigued by how language and culture influence each other. I often address this relationship with international teams, many of which strongly relate to this subject, particularly if their members are multilingual.  But what does it mean in business? How does language affect us, especially when the communication is between native and non-native speakers of a common business language? And ultimately: how can we use learning and development interventions to leverage the language and culture connection?

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Improving the Performance of your Virtual Team - How the Right Tools can help you Succeed

Improving the Performance of your Virtual Team - How the Right Tools can help you Succeed

By: Theresa Sigillito Hollema

Leading a virtual team is challenging – geographic distance, communication using technology, building trust for collaboration, cultural differences, competing priorities and local distractions are just a few of the headaches virtual teams encounter.  Working on these issues as a team can have a beneficial impact and accelerate the team development process.  Now I offer two tools to help a virtual team identify issues, discuss underlying causes and agree on solutions. 

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Competing Commitments: What is keeping you from changing?

Competing Commitments: What is keeping you from changing?

By: Robert-Paul Schwippert

Change is a mysterious thing. Do you recognize this situation: You want to change something, you know it will bring an enhancement in your work or life, you are perfectly capable to realize the change and still… you seem unable to bring yourself to do it...  What is going on...?

I am sure you recognize plenty of cases as described above, for instance, you want to lose weight, but you keep eating snacks. You want to get that career promotion, but you don’t take real initiative. Now why is it, that despite something being so important to us we fail to deliver – and even worse… we often punish ourselves about it too.

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Global Nomads in the Workplace – What their Diverse Identities Add to your Team

Global Nomads in the Workplace – What their Diverse Identities Add to your Team

While I write this blog, the tunes of the song Motherland from Nathalie Merchant sound in my headphones. It reminds me of the conversation I recently facilitated with a group of amazing women from eleven different nations from the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region. It led me to think about identity and how I often notice how people are ‘reduced’ to one single identity when we address people as coming from a certain nation/homeland.  I like to advocate for a much more nuanced approach in our global workplaces...

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How your Assumptions are Blocking Progress

How your Assumptions are Blocking Progress

Currently I am participating in an online course that is shaking up the thoughts in my head in a good way.  The course is titled We Will Dance with Mountains, and I recommend it for those who want to think about their place and impact in the world.   One section covers our generally accepted assumptions, and analyzes the impact of these assumptions on bringing change.

In this article, I would like to share some of the assumptions I encounter, which seem harmless, but may become a hurdle to becoming the creative, fun, trusting team where everyone feels like contributing their best.

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English as a Global Language – 7 Struggles and Solutions

English as a Global Language – 7 Struggles and Solutions

By: Nita Korsten and Kathy Czako

Once upon a time… Mrs. Snow, the CEO of an international company, led her quarterly sales meeting on the 46th floor of a giant glass and concrete skyscraper in a country far, far away. Her seven devoted staff members surrounded Mrs. Snow. They had gathered from various countries from all over the world. “This will be great”, Mrs. Snow thought. “All this knowledge and experience in one room!” Except something was wrong..

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Is your virtual open door policy working?

Is your virtual open door policy working?

by: Theresa Sigillito Hollema

How effective is your communication with your virtual team?  Does bad news come to you quickly or are you often surprised? Successful leaders of virtual teams consciously create a communication channel with employees who are not co-located.  Have you invested in creating effective communication channels with your virtual team ....?

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Tell your story with the headphones on

Tell your story with the headphones on

By: Theresa Sigillito Hollema

Have you heard a good story lately?  Most of us love to hear a good story, and we all have a great story to tell – our own.  Barker and Gower show through the Narrative Paradigm Theory  that story telling is a cross-culturally accepted communication tool and a quick method to build relationships, especially in a diverse environment.  Fortunately storytelling has also proven to be a great way to let your virtual team thrive!

Let’s imagine about how this would work for a multi-cultural virtual team.  The team comes together (preferably through video) and each person ...

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Why Google is running the company on questions, not on answers

Why Google is running the company on questions, not on answers

by: Robert Paul Schwippert

Often I observe managers and leaders in conversations, and to be honest… sometimes they talk a lot.  I notice the more they speak the less they listen. The less they listen the less they learn.  This is because when we give our opinion we provide our perspective; the perspective we already know. We tell it to others since we want them to understand. 

Asking (the right) questions could bring value.  Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.”   ...

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How to turn Professionals into Leaders and Role Models

How to turn Professionals into Leaders and Role Models

by: Nita Korsten

Recently I designed a leadership development program for chairs (the most senior professors) of one of world’s highest-ranking universities. I used the McKinsey influencing model[1] to build a program that helps their leaders and managers navigate the organization in new directions. The importance to turn professionals into professional leaders does not only count for universities, but for any expertise-focused organization like hospitals or research centers, and also for consultants, investment bankers, accountants, architects, and lawyers.

For most, the scenario of an organization full of intelligent experts does not ... 

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Can your remote colleagues become a team?

Can your remote colleagues become a team?

by: Theresa Sigillito Hollema

Why do so many managers of virtual teams forget that their team works virtually?  When the manager sets aside the time and money to focus on a team building session, why do they fail to put ‘building virtual competence’ on the agenda?   Perhaps because they do not realize that to work virtually is more than an onsite team who turn on their computers.  Working virtually requires a new way of collaborating, building trust, brainstorming, making decisions and influencing, which has a major impact on the team success. 

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The Day I became Icelandic

The Day I became Icelandic

I love vacation! In my case, that is not because it means I can cease to think about work!  On the contrary, I constantly get new views on various cultures, a subject I am professionally passionate about. Encountering other cultures provides me with the opportunity to incorporate new viewpoints in my own life. This summer I had the chance to travel to Iceland and embrace the “Petta Reddast” motto of the Icelandic people! 

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Teambuilding Online - Fact or Fantasy...?!

Teambuilding Online - Fact or Fantasy...?!

You are leading a virtual team with people scattered in different locations and perhaps you wonder – is it really possible to do team building online?  Do I have to wait until we all get together in the same place?  Often when I am facilitating a workshop about working virtually across cultures, the question will arise regarding team building online.  Is it really possible, and is it really fun?  My answer is yes, and yes.

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Globalization of Love...

Globalization of Love...

Sometimes we are so busy focusing on the impact of culture on the business environments that we overlook where differences in culture really get personal and heated – between two people in love.   Wendy Williams has put a microscope to these relationships by interviewing dozens of multi-cultural couples and has written a funny, insightful and recognizable book called the Globalization of Love. I also attended her TedxTalk in Vienna. Read the Highlights and watch the TedTalk

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Perception and Reality of Corporate Culture Change

Perception and Reality of Corporate Culture Change

Have you ever been in charge or involved in a corporate culture change program? Then you might recognize the optimism at the start of such a program. Often, a very smart 3,4, or 5-step approach is presented to change the company’s culture from A to B!   To avoid disappointment and increase the success rate, it is essential to design a more cohesive program based on a realistic idea of Corporate Culture Change.

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Five Key principles to boost open dialogue in teams

Five Key principles to boost open dialogue in teams

I am not sure how to explain this clearly’ – John - a 52 old seasoned executive -sighed when he took a seat at his office. Having held previous positions in financial firms in London and Stockholm John was recently appointed as Internal Audit Manager of a global firm based in Amsterdam. Talking about his new team he continued: “Individually they are highly talented professionals, but it seems I cannot get them to working together properly.  I get the impression not all is said in the open and there is a lot of second guessing and side conversations going on... Surely I have dealt with cultural differences before, but this time…”

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50% of executives admit to significant losses in cross-border transactions!

50% of executives admit to significant losses in cross-border transactions!

In research by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 50% of respondents admit that communication misunderstandings have hampered major cross-border transactions, incurring significant losses for their company. A majority of executives surveyed say that an improvement in cross-border communications will have a beneficial impact on financial indicators, such as profit, revenue and market share. 

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Leading in Complexity – Making sense of Matrix, Culture and Virtual Working

Leading in Complexity – Making sense of Matrix, Culture and Virtual Working

The importance of an integrated approach to leading change

‘It’s just too much, I cannot cope anymore’. David – a soft drinks Category Manager of a global Fortune 500 company - shared his thoughts openly. ‘How can I work with these diffuse new responsibilities and at the same time be expected to work with colleagues from different cultures who - by the way - I can only communicate with via Skype or email…?! ‘

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