- Born and raised in Japan, with advanced studies in the U.S., France and Spain, Mary Yoko Brannen has worked as a cross-cultural consultant for over 25 years to mostly Fortune 100 companies.
- Specializes in helping multinational firms realize their global strategic initiatives by aligning and integrating critical internal organizational resources. Advises management on developing knowledge-sharing architectures, creating a global language strategy, leveraging bicultural boundary-spanners, and careful selection and deployment of global teams.
- Holds the Jarislowsky East Asia (Japan) Chair of Cross-Cultural Management at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business and holds a Visiting Professorship of Strategy and Management at INSEAD. She is a founding director of the Institute for Global Learning and Innovation.
- Serves as Deputy Editor of the Journal of International Business Studies – the highest ranked journal in the field of international business.
- As a researcher, internationally recognized as an expert in ethnomethodology and qualitative studies of complex cultural organizational phenomena. Current research includes knowledge-sharing across distance and differentiated contexts; also, directing a global research project focusing on biculturals and people of mixed cultural origins as the new workplace demographic.
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Global Strategic Audits - Making the Most of Your Global Footprint
- The incoming workforce demographic is increasingly multicultural; whereas top management remains monocultural.
- Top management needs to understand this new, changing demographic and what inherent skill sets it brings.
Unfortunately, so far the opportunity offered by multiculturals to global firms has been largely missed. Even the link between multiculturalism and success in directing complex global operations by prominent multicultural corporate leaders – such as Renault/Nissan's Carlos Ghosn today, or Ford's Jack Nasser some years ago – has been largely ignored. For each Carlos Ghosn, who is able to exercise his unique multicultural leadership skills leading a "third country" company such as Nissan, how many potential bicultural leaders remain unrecognized? How many firms miss the opportunity to leverage the multiculturals they have or develop others in the making?What companies now discover is that deep contextual understanding is needed more than ever. Although, on the surface of it, the world perhaps looks more culturally integrated today than ever before, this is a superficial impression in today’s fast-paced, quick-to-market, knowledge-intensive industries with global trends engulfing the world in a matter of weeks. With superficial or no training, corporate leaders actually rediscover over and again feelings of impotence and frustration as they struggle in the acid test of deep contextual understanding – in real time and place and ensconced in local complex cultural contexts.
Even more important is what we can learn from the skills and experiences of multiculturals to help develop leaders and managers of monocultural origins into truly effective, culturally-agile global leaders. This is instead of the glossy, often shallow and ineffective “expatriates” and “global cosmopolitans” who know a little but not enough and thus, so often compromise the harmonious interactions between global companies and the local contexts within which they operate. There is a huge opportunity to learn how to improve executive development from training to ongoing talent management for mindful, culturally agile, global leadership.
- More companies are choosing to have more than one lingua franca.
- Companies working in different global markets may do business in more than one language, such as English, Chinese and Spanish. Organizations need to decide which language strategy is appropriate for their business needs. The answer depends on their strategic intent and their global footprint.
- Collaborations technologies are proliferating to enable collaboration across disparate geographic locations.
- Telepresence is key for many companies expanding their global footprint. This includes webinars, Skype meetings and other forms of communication between geographic locations to sustain corporate culture and ensure brand consistency. Still, cross-cultural misunderstandings can occur in this type of communication. Companies need to be trained in cross-cultural and language-sensitive aspects of using these technologies.
- Local incumbents will be in a stronger position in their own context.
- This is increasingly the case as more emerging economies continue to strengthen. Before, it was just two or three economies, such as the U.S., Japan and Germany, driving wealth. Today, developing economies are becoming market contenders. This means the power distribution is changing.
- Top management in large multinational companies tend to be "global cosmopolitans" and not indicative of their home cultural norm.
- Just because an executive is Japanese, that doesn't mean his expertise isn't in other markets. He or she may have spent a decade in Germany, or New York. This requires a different type of cultural audit of the top management team.