Global Processes/Local Issues LO19770
Mon, 9 Nov 1998 22:11:55 -0500

Replying to LO19760 --

In LO19760 R Holman wrote:

"I need help answering the question "What is the best way to structure
a global services organization to insure global processes with
consideration to local (national) issues and to enhance learning?".
This company has over 60,000 employees and is located in over 30
countries. The issue is balancing the need to provide a consistent
look to global customers while maintaining a local touch in each

A major part of the answer in my view is to be found in common
principles rather than common processes. Let me explain.
I assume that when you use the expression "global processes" you
mean that certain activities should be carried out in an identical
manner the world over. If this is the case then your efforts will
inevitably meet with resistance. People resent being told from some
far away head office how to do things. They may welcome advice and
ideas, but they will only be committed to the task if they are allowed
to work out for themselves the best way to do it.

People do not object to the imposition from the centre of
principles and objectives. A principle could be for example related
to the speed with which a customer enquiry must be handled, or the
type information which must be provided. From that point on, the
people who do the work should be given the time and suitable
leadership to figure out for themselves the best way to implement the
principles in their particular situation. After that you would also
give them the time and the leadership to survey the needs of their
customers and other stakeholders, and use this information in a
process of continuous improvement. This approach allows people to
take pride in their work, to engage in ongoing learning, and maintain
a genuine motivation to give excellent customer service.
People who like to exercise control will argue that you will end up
with a different process in every location. They will be right, but
they won't be able to explain why this should matter. Although they
may not be consciously aware of it, it only matters because they will
feel they are no longer in control.
If they can overcome their craving for control, these same people
are needed to apply their skill and experience to devising workable
principles and providing leadership and guidance (not command and
control) to help people implement them. They will then find that they
have the respect of the workforce in place of fear and resentment.

Alan Anderson


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