Why Brexit might be the best thing that has happened to Europe in 30 years

Why Brexit might be the best thing that has happened to Europe in 30 years

The broken Family in Europe

Imagine you belong to a big diversified family in Europe, where each part of the family lives in different places, do different things for a living, have different political perspectives and belong to different social groups. When you all meet up 3 – 5 times per year you all have a good time together because you value being a family more than your personal political point of view or your ability to show off financially or intellectually. Well – it could have been like that if it wasn’t for aunt Bessie who is always negative and do whatever she can to split the family in order to promote her own point of view. She has no respect for other people’s opinions or values and she doesn’t refrain from telling everybody how stupid and untalented they are.

Aunt Bessie

Aunt Bessie

She used to be wealthy and she and her husband were the wealthiest in the family. But after her husband died 20 years ago she started to spend a lot of money on gambling making her broke at record speed. The rest of the family tried to help her back on track, but she became more and more angry and obstructive.

The other family members often talked about how much of a pain in the neck she was and how she has destroyed the good ambiance in the family. “I wish we could trust each other like in the old days” her brother said, “we have become so ego-centric and hostile towards each other” a cousin said and added “maybe we shouldn’t get together all of us anymore – we just argue all the time over the smallest details instead of valuing what we actually have”

Then one day uncle Ben called. He tried to sound sad, but he didn’t succeed very well: “Bessie died last night” he said. It was quickly agreed to get the funeral done as soon as possible. 4 days later she was buried.

The family decided to spend an extended weekend together, now that they could finally heal the wounds and move forward. It went very well and over the next year the relationships across geographies, education levels, financial wealth, professions developed rapidly. As time passed it became a very strong family. Not that they didn’t have their fights and arguments but no one took them to a stage where the family ties were jeopardised.

The future for Europe

Now that UK is leaving the family it is time to think about the impact it will have. Most people who have expressed their opinion about brexit have only focused on the economic factors, which in my opinion are secondary to the real benefits of a committing collaboration across culturally diversified entities in Europe. The real benefit we have had in Europe despite Britains numerous attems to spoil its3e715d04-11cc-495c-8f64-65ec6e5ea0f2-original peace. A peace most people today shamefully take for granted. But the fact is that since the coal and steel union was founded after World War 2 we have had a fairly peaceful continent because we have agreed on toning down nationalism in return for bilateral collaboration.

As the complexity of our lives has increased the model for collaboration had to adapt as well beyond the original ideas. Globalisation changed the competitive landscape completely – and will continue to do so. USA’s promotion of instability in the Middle East has lead to international terrorism for which Europe is paying the highest price. Pollution is killing more than 6 million people per year and global warming is going to have a huge impact on the way we live. None of these challenges can be solved on a national level and I don’t think it will be wise to leave the drafting of the solutions to USA, China and Russia.

Now that Aunt Bessie is leaving it is time for Europe to heal the wounds. As you can see from the chart on the right United Kingdom is by far the most nationalistic country in Europe, so it isn’t really surprising that they didn’t want to be a part of the family. I just wonder why it took them so long to find out to leave.

The European Cultural re-integration

In  Gugin we have helped more than 600 companies around the world leveraging cultural diversity and reconciling cultural conflicts. One of the most fundamental things you need to remember if you want to reconcile a cultural conflict is the awareness of your own attitude.

In all conflicts you have a choice. You can choose to focus on the differences and spend all your energy emphasising how you are different (better) than your counterpart. Most people, companies,countries do that. The huge disadvantage of this approach is that it becomes almost impossible to identify the similarities, the common values and goals in life. They get burried in your flow of statements how you are better than “them”.

The other approach you can take is to start by focusing on what we have in common; common goals, common values, common dreams etc. If you do that you will find that the differences suddenly become a lot less significant and much easier to overcome. Unfortunately big egos, low cultural intelligence and low self-esteem often prevents us from taking that productive and fruitful approach.

Now that Aunt Bessie has left the family I believe it will be a lot easier so that we together can address the issues that really matters. Before we can launch the European cultural re-integration process there is one question that needs to be solved. How do you make things work with 28 member states? Should they all have a say or do we have to accept that the big countries take the lead?

In my opinion it will make a lot of sense with a 2-tier EU. as it is today a lot of the small countries are putting down too many road blocks just because they can. EU has to find a model where the speed of decisions increases and yet provide a platform for the smaller countries to be heard.

I will later write about how this cultural integration process can take place, but in the meantime let us do each other that favour not only to look at how we are different but instead look at what we have in common.

EU is not perfect, but taking into consideration the challenges that have been put on EU I think they have done pretty well. Lets develop it from the inside with a positive attitude instead of leaving with a spoiled child attitude.

Kind regards

Dr. Finn Majlergaard

 

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How much cultural Intelligence do you have?

How much cultural Intelligence do you have?

how much cultural intelligence do you have

how much cultural intelligence do you have

Look carefully at the image above. What do you pay attention to first?

Do you first pay attention to that there are three squares or do you first pay attention to the three different colors?

How much cultural intelligence do you have?

In Gugin we teach leaders around the world to become more cultural intelligent so that they can avoid cultural conflicts. And if a cultural conflict arises they will know how to reconcile it because they possess a high level of cultural intelligence. Developing cultural intelligence is like climbing a ladder. It is something you develop one step at a time. In Gugin we have 2 course modules to help you climb the cultural intelligence ladder. They are calles Cultural Intelligence 1 and Cultural Intelligence 2.

One of the first thing we have to learn is to start focusing on the commonalities when we bring different cultures together. What did you answer to the question above? If you answered three squares you most likely have a high level of cultural intelligence. If you answered 3 colors you might consider why you start by focusing on the differences rather than the commonalities.

Start with commonalities

If we start by focusing on the differences when we are in a multicultural setting it might be difficult to see the commononalities later on because we are trapped in the stereotypes. The Dutch research Geert Hofstede created stereotypes about nationalities and by that he fueled more cultural conflicts despite his objective hopefully was the opposite.

If, however we start focusing on the commonalities the differences become less important and more manageable. It may sound simple but please take a moment to reflect and think about what your approach usually is.

This teaser is ofcourse not enough to assess how much cultural intelligence you have, but hopefully you got an idea of how easy it is to get things wrong, and hopefully you will get in touch with us to learn more about how much cultural intelligence impacts performance of both leaders and the organisations they work for.

If you will like to learn more please get in touch either from the contact form on our website or send an email to gugin@gugin.com

Let us make this world a better place to be. It is so easy.

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Challenges of Cross-Cultural Management

Challenges of Cross-Cultural Management

Cross-Cultural Management is challenging. Everyone who has tried to manage a group of people from diverse cultures can confirm that.  That can be people from different departments, different profession groups, different age groups, different nationalities etc. Since we started Gugin in 2001 we have been working with all sorts of cross-cultural management challenges, so in this short article I will try to summarise some of the major, generic challenges we have faced

 Unpredictable behaviour in Cross-Cultural Management

We all have different values, different priorities in life and different understanding of what each word means. Quality, for example, is by some people associated with delivering on time, while others associate it with being perfect, beautiful or robust. We always say we want the highest quality delivered on time, but we all know that the reality often is very different. We have to compromise. We have to either deliver an 80% solution on time or give up delivering on time. The cross-cultural management challenge is that we have different preferences for what is important.

organisational effectiveness

Example: IT outsourcing

We have worked with quite a few clients who were frustrated about that the companies they had outsourced their IT development project too. The frustration related to cross-cultural management develops if the company prioritises delivering on time while the company they have outsourced to prioritises perfection over delivering on time. Both values are important but when you can’t achieve both you have to prioritise. From a cross-cultural management perspective, this is very challenging. We assume we prioritise the same way, understand words like “quality” the same way and communicate the same way. But we don’t.

So suddenly we experience other people behave and prioritise in ways we don’t understand. If we are less experienced with these cross-cultural challenges we get frustrated maybe even angry. If we have a higher level of cultural intelligence we assess the differences in the underlying values and will try to reconcile these differences and find a solution that enriches having different value sets in play.

 Compromising values

Our behaviour is closely linked to our underlying values and norms. As we have different norms and values because of differences in cultures leads to different behaviours. According to ourselves we always behave properly because our behaviour always reflects our own values – even when we do something cruel. Cultural clashes happen when other people’s behaviour compromises our own values. It happens all the time. You may have a value about giving up your seat on the bus to an elderly man, while others do not share that value. When an elderly person comes on the bus and no one gives him a seat you will feel offended – because your values are compromised.

Some years ago I moved from Denmark to southern France. I use to have a coffee at the same cafe every morning when walking the dog. In the beginning, I noticed that the regulars got a small Pain Au Chocolat together with their coffee, while I just got the coffee. I could feel offended. Why do they get a better treatment than me – we are all equal. At least that is how the cultural norms are in Denmark. Everyone is treated equally bad and no one should think he is somebody special. In France it is different and that is one of the reasons why I love living here. By coming to the same cafe often you build a relationship and you show loyalty. That loyalty is rewarded with a small Pain Au Chocolat together with your coffee. If I was not aware of the differences in the underlying values, I could have made a scene ( what some tourists do sometimes). There are different values in different cultures and we are not to judge which ones are right. They are all right in the cultural frame, where they exist.

In business dealing with compromising values is an important issue to reconcile. As I wrote before – norms and values are closely tied to a culture. The norms and values you have in your organisation support your corporate culture, so when you employ new people, outsource to external companies or hire in-house subcontractors you have to make sure that they share your norms and values.

How do you check norms and values?

First, you have to be very aware of your own culture. In Gugin we call that the cultural DNA and we describe that Cultural DNA through our Cultural Due Diligence Process which goes through all the elements of your culture and make the diffuse term “culture” more tangible by looking at all the measurable elements in the cultural DNA.

 Difficult to perform as a manager

Many of the managers we talk to find cross-cultural management annoying and difficult.  Managing cultural diverse groups, because decision processes take much longer time, you have to explain everything and you never know what is going to happen. The managers don’t respond this way because they are narrow-minded or don’t acknowledge that we are living in a globalised world.

They respond this way because they find it difficult to perform well as a manager in that situation because they lack skills and experience in cross-cultural management. The managers have to meet deadlines, deliver high quality within the budgets. They can only do that in a multicultural environment if they know how to manage, motivate, encourage and communicate with a team of people with many different values. That is why developing cultural intelligence is crucial for most organisations.

Managing a culturally diverse team is like eating with a knife and a fork. They are two very distinct tools, but because you have the cultural intelligence that enables you to use the knife in one way and the fork in another – at the same time you can eat a huge variety of food.

Cross Cultural Management

Cross-Cultural Management explained

As annoying it might be working with a diverse group of people it is equally rewarding when you succeed and you experience how much better multicultural teams are when all the members understand the basic elements of cultural intelligence.

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Post-merger integration – the top 3 reasons why it usually fails

Post-merger integration – the top 3 reasons why it usually fails

The definition of Post-merger integration is the process of integrating two or more organisations after a merger or acquisition. Wikipedia defines it as “Post-merger integration or PMI is a complex process of combining and rearranging businesses to materialize potential efficiencies and synergies that usually motivate mergers and acquisitions. The PMI is a critical aspect of mergers; it involves combining the original socio-technical systems of the merging organizations into one new combined system.”

In this article, we will outline why it often goes wrong and what your organisation can do to succeed with the post-merger integration process

 

Post-merger integration

Post-merger integration mistakes

According to most surveys, including those from BusinessWeek and McKinsey quarterly 2/3 of all mergers and acquisitions fail to meet their objectives due to cultural clashes. In Gugin we have spent thousands of hours and a lot of money researching the reason behind this and develop services that help bring down that ratio. But no matter how good we become at facilitating cultural- and organisational integration there are still some factors we can not control and in the early stages of a merger or a take-over, there are often made decisions that are counterproductive to a successful integration.

In this short article, I will reveal some of the reasons why some integration processes go wrong despite all the best intentions of the parties involved.

There is not always a clear strategic choice behind a merger or an acquisition.

Sometimes a company is forced into that situation because of a crisis caused by changes in the external environment. Sometimes companies are forced to buy other companies because of pressure from the shareholders who don’t want their investment to possess too much cash. Acquisitions based on these motivators are almost always going to fail, simply because no one running the daily businesses really doesn’t see the point, so they have no motivation to make it successful.

The investment banks are never on your side

It is often the norm that a company contact an investment bank when they are looking for a company to merge with or acquire. The investment bank will conduct a due diligence to document whether a possible merger or acquisition will be a good or a bad solution. They will look at the financial performance, the market position, legal obligations, goodwill and almost anything else you can squeeze into a spreadsheet. What they don’t look at is people’s motivation to go to work or people’s motivation to buy that company’s products or services. The investment banks will tell you it can not be measured. But that is simply not true. So when an investment bank is proposing you a candidate to merge with or buy, don’t be so sure they are on your side. You might have a dream about strengthening your company, create better products, get access to new markets. But the investment banks are only interested in getting a signature on a deal so that they can get their commission. I know that for a fact because some of these investment banks have been completely honest with me when I on behalf of Gugin have approached them and suggested that we in addition on the due diligence that they do a cultural due diligence. The purpose of the cultural due diligence is to find out how well two companies for together culturally and before that what are the cultural strengths and weaknesses of your own company. When we have proposed collaboration with the investment banks, some of them told os bluntly that their only aim was to close the deal and they honestly didn’t care whether the transaction was long-term sustainable. Having Gugin on board would only prolong the decision process and in some cases lead to a no-go recommendation, which is bad for business if you are an investment bank on a commission paid out when the deal is signed.

 

Tell us why you are interested in Post-Merger Integration and how we can help you

We facilitate the post-merger integration, we help develop the post-merger integration strategy, we give advice, we find the right people, we solve post-merger integration problems and we secure momentum in the post-merger integration process.

So please get in touch

How can we help you?

15 + 12 =

The post-merger integration happens by itself

When Gugin is invited to facilitate the post-merger integration process, we almost always experience different levels of excitement depending on where we look in the organisation. The board of directors and senior executives are usually exited because they have a vision that can become a reality and often they have a substantial financial incentive to be excited too.

The middle managers are sceptical, sometimes hostile because they don’t how their position in the hierarchy is going to change, so they start spending all their time protecting their power base and position in the organisation. When they are together with the senior executives they praise the merger or acquisition but when they are with their teams they are on a political campaign to prepare for a fight.

The employees don’t care as much as the middle managers, but the most valuable employees will start scanning the market, become more active on LinkedIn, go to more professional conferences where the networking opportunities are good.

All this happens because a plan for the integration process isn’t considered from the very beginning. If Gugin comes on board very early in the process we can help figure out if the merger or acquisition is a good idea at all. What is the point merging with another company if your best employees and the majority of your customers leave you? And together we develop a plan for the integration process so people don’t end up insecure about the future and which way the company is heading.

You also need someone from outside to facilitate the post-merger integration process, so that you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

One of the important things we help you decide is how deep do you want the integration to be. Do you acquire the company and more or less let it be or do you want a complete organisational and cultural integration? We help you make the right choice.

And no; the post-merger integration process doesn’t happen by itself, but we lose focus on it over time and leave back a fragmented, ineffective organisation with frustrated employees and dissatisfied customers. That is why you should let someone else facilitate the integration process because if you lose focus on that process and don’t deliver what you have promised your stakeholders you lose both your customers, employees and shareholders

Read more here on how Gugin can work together with you on post-merger integration here:

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Tailor your Corporate Leadership Training with Gugin Training Modules

Tailor your Corporate Leadership Training with Gugin Training Modules

The Corporate Training Dilemma

Corporate Leadership Training is often the most effective training because all the participants share the same goals and are part of the same corporate culture. But there are still challenges to overcome. Training people at all levels in an organisation to be able to benefit from working in a global multi-cultural environment seems like an almost impossible and very expensive task. Yet we have to face the challenges and maybe even learn how to benefit from the cultural diversity. We all know of projects that were severely delayed because of cultural clashes. We all know of products that came too late to the market because of internal rivalry, we all know good people who have left the organisation because they didn’t feel they fit in and we all know businesses that have perished because they underestimated the cultural change they had to go through when going from being regional to being global.

Corporate Leadership Training – Gugins core competence

We have developed 12 intensive interactive corporate training modules, which you can put together almost as you like. Each module has been carefully designed to give each participant new knowledge that can be applied in his or her job right away. Each module is 3 hours excluding breaks, which means you can have 2 modules per day. Depending on the course module you can invite up to 20 people for each module.

 

 

Corporate Leadership Training

Corporate Leadership Training from Gugin

 

Let Gugin tailor the right Corporate Leadership Training for your Organisation

Your time is precious. Taking 12 people out for a workshop for 1-3 days is costly, so it better be worth it.  We, therefore, invite you to a conversation about how we can design a training program that fits your specific needs right now. You might want to focus on managing virtual teams, managing outsourcing partners, leading and managing people in a new part of the world, leading and managing people after a merger or acquisition. There are hundreds of scenarios so please contact us so that we together can develop the right program for you.

How does it work?

The Corporate Leadership Training modules are facilitated on a location of your choice and you invite and manage the participants. Gugin provides the facilitator and course material. You pay a flat see per module irrespective of the numbers of participants. This way you can provide the right training to the right people in the right place in a cost-effective way without compromising the quality.

Please contact us here for a detailed description of each module and a discussion about how we can help you in the best possible way.

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Gugins services – How are they developed

Gugins services – How are they developed

This short article is going to deal with one of the questions we are asked very often; “How are Gugins services developed and how do you know where to focus?”

To answer the second part of the question first, the answer is easy – we ask our clients. Since 2001 we have been working with more than 600 companies around the world taking advantage of the cultural diversity in almost any way you can think of. On a regular basis, we invite all our clients to share their concerns about doing business and running companies in a globalised world. These answers give us a pretty good picture of where the burning platforms are and where we should focus our development activities. As an example, we know that a lot of our clients are struggling with finding out how to manage virtual teams. We became aware of this issue becoming important 4 years ago and started to put resources into research long ago so that we could develop state-of-the-art services in that area. So the constant feedback from our clients is our primary source when determining where to focus our research efforts.Gugins business model

Gugins services – how are they developed?

When we have identified an area where we want to develop a new consulting services we first try to find out how much knowledge is there in this area already and how much of this knowledge has been transformed into consulting services already.

We then draft a research proposal accompanied by a budget and if we end up approving it we define the research project in detail. Thanks to Gugin’s close relationship with universities and business around the world a lot of our students are volunteering to facilitate parts of the research in return for getting valuable results for their thesis.

When we have gained new knowledge and new insights about a specific issue we move on turning this knowledge into a training module and a consulting module that can be combined with all our other modules into complex training programs or value propositions to global clients.

When doing training for either academics or corporate clients we get a lot of questions that help us improve our insights. When we bring our improved insights to our consulting clients we get a different feedback that can help us improve our training programs.

This way the consulting part and the training part synergize so both are becoming better and better.

Contact us and tell us what you need.

 

 

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