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“Think Globally, Act Locally” - How to Lead a Successful Global Training Initiative

By Andrea McOwen

Many companies struggle with how to have a successful global training initiative. Over the years we've put together some best practices. "Think globally, act locally" is a phrase I know you've all heard before, but let's explore what this means in regards to a training initiative.

00:25  What it doesn't mean is taking what works in the U.S. and pushing it out to other parts of the world. Many companies try to roll out training by sending English facilitators and using English materials. They assume that because their employees all speak English that this will be OK. What they're not thinking about is that cultures and customs vary from country to country. Even in countries where the language is the same, cultural phrases are not, and this can lead to misunderstandings.

00:51  Here's a short story that will illustrate that.

00:55  An American couple came back from London after being there for four months and I asked them, "Did you see a difference in the cultures and the values?" The husband sat back and after a while, he had this to offer. He said when you get on and off the subway in London you hear a recorded message and that message says, "Mind the gap." Now here in the United States, we would say "Watch your step", but in London, "Mind the gap" means watch your step between the train and the platform. That phrase pretty much summarizes any advice I would give to a company considering doing global training. Because we share a common language, we look and dress a lot alike, it's only natural to expect that phrases and cultural norms would be the same, but they're not. Despite similarities, there is, in fact, a gap. "Think globally, act locally" means making sure that training is taking into account cultures, customs and that you're using a facilitator who is from that area and knows what it takes to run a successful business in that region.

02:05  By recognizing local customs and cultural sensitivities and teaching in a native language, you remove distractions for the learner, so that they can focus on the skills that you want them to learn and this, in turn, will help them help you meet your strategic objectives.

Best of luck and let us know how we can help you achieve more effective training!

Published: November 12, 2015


Andrea McOwen


Andrea McOwen has over 30 years of business experience and has been with Strategic Enhancement Group for 28 years. As the President of Strategic Enhancement Group she is leading the day to day and future direction of the company. Andrea manages the business relationships with Strategic Enhancement Group’s international business partners and coordinates the appropriate resources needed around the world to meet our global clients’ needs. Andrea has managed large global implementations for many diverse global clients and is experienced managing projects in 36 countries in every region of the world. Andrea has a strong foundation in sales, service and management. Andrea’s ability to quickly demonstrate an understanding of organizational issues, needs and priorities has gained her the confidence and trust of customers and employees alike. Andrea graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. degree in fashion merchandising/interior design with a minor in business administration. Prior to joining SEG she worked with a merchandise wholesaler in sales and marketing and was a General Manager in retail.

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