Monday, January 11, 2010

Managing Globally, and Locally
NYT, Published: December 12, 2009
This interview with Nancy McKinstry, the C.E.O. and chairwoman of the executive board of Wolters Kluwer, the information service company centered in the Netherlands, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

This was an insightful interview with one of the key lessons being that you must understand the culture of the business folks you are dealing with before sitting down with them:

"……..every culture is very different in how they make decisions. So that ability to understand how they interpret what you’ve said to them, and how you interpret what they’ve said back to you, and what are the rules of engagement about how you’re going to make a decision, is very important….

Q. Can you give me a couple of examples?
A. In the Netherlands, where our company is based, what you find is that people really want to be heard early on in the process. So if you just go to someone and say, “I want you to go take this product and enter this new market,” most likely the first response they’ll say is, “No, and let me tell you how that won’t work.” What they really want to say is, “I’m not going to commit yet to that objective until we have a chance to really sit down and explore how we’re going to do that, what your expectations are, and how we measure success.”
So what I’ve learned in Holland is that if you invest a lot of time upfront to explain what you’re trying to accomplish, get people’s feedback, then when they do say yes, the time to implementation is really fast. But if you don’t invest that time up front, you’re going to get such resistance that you’ll never get to the end.
Then, when I work with my Italian colleagues and the Spaniard colleagues, what you find is they can’t always tell you how they’re going to get something accomplished, but they manage to get it done, and providing them the latitude is important"

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