Get first hand information from the one on one interviews that Fredrik Haren conducted with the most reputable executives behind the biggest global companies today
Find out how companies from different parts of the world evolved from being a multi-national company to a truly global company
Watch as Fredrik Haren explains how to be a truly global company and person.
Here is a preview of Fredrik’s speech on How to be a Truly Global Company.
Take a peak and learn what it’s like to be truly global in Fredrik Haren’s World Tour
Here are the first 3 chapters of One World. One Company. that teaches you how to be truly global.
One World One Company.
In September 2011, a couple of hundred employees of Deloitte Sweden flew to a hotel in the beautiful countryside of Slovenia for their yearly company conference. The theme of the conference was “As One.”
Later that year, a couple of hundred sales representatives of HP Asia flew in to the massive Marina Bay Sands hotel and conference center in Singapore for their yearly company conference. The theme of their conference was “One Team, One Way. One Mission.”
I was the keynote speaker at both conferences, which meant that I heard firsthand how these companies were preparing for the future. By 2012, the title for the book I was writing seemed obvious. The phrase, in one way or another, kept recurring.
Then in March 2012 I delivered a speech for a couple of hundred sales and marketing professionals of Sapa Profiles who had flown to conveniently located Frankfurt for their yearly company conference.
The theme of that conference was “One Sapa. One Sales and Marketing.”
The change Sapa was in the middle of was, in many ways, a perfect example of the “One World. One Company” transition so many companies are trying to perform right now. I had the opportunity to sit down with John Thuestad, President of Sapa Profiles, to talk about how Sapa was changing.
Sapa produces and sells aluminum profiles. Founded in 1963, for the longest time Sapa operated and thrived as a local European company. But in the last few years, something changed. When I asked Thuestad when the change occurred, he replied, “It started in 2003–2005, and intensified in 2009. Before that we did not act like a global company.” And they didn’t have to. Most business was local, with few customers wanting global contracts and the threat from cheap competition from Asia not yet an issue. Then everything changed at once.
“We saw that structural change in our customer base, and as the world changed, they wanted us to globalize with them,” said Thuestad. Then he told me how some of their biggest customers, like IKEA, Ahlstrom and Siemens, began asking for global contracts.
If Sapa was able to piggyback on their customers’ drive to become global, Sapa would be able to get large contracts from customers who were driving innovation and willing to pay a premium to a supplier able to deliver its products with consistent quality worldwide.
If Sapa was not able to keep up with this demand, they would find themselves cut off from substantial deals, left to compete with smaller local clients against low cost suppliers from Asia.
It was clear which of those two scenarios Sapa wanted to be part of. Thuestad looked me in the eyes to ensure I understood just how committed he and his company were to this change, and said, “We will move with our customers. Our ambition now is to be a global company.”
Sapa is not there yet. Thuestad labels Sapa today as a “globally regional company.” For many of their offices in Europe, just 10 –15 % of their business is from global contracts. But it is increasing, and in the cutthroat business of aluminum profile, those orders could be the difference between thriving and suffering. Sapa is not on a mission to become “One” because it is a nice thing to do. They are doing it to stay alive.
“Bad English”: A Good Idea
A few years back I had the privilege to deliver a session on business creativity for the top management of Volvo Group. After the session I got to sit down for lunch with Leif Johansson, then the CEO of Volvo Group, to talk about how the company looked at running the company as one.
Volvo Group is a company that has realized the symbolic value that rules and regulations can play when a company is trying to become truly global. With about 100,000 employees, production facilities in 20 countries, and sales in more than 190 markets, this manufacturer of trucks, buses and construction equipment is a global company. They sell their products under more than ten different brands, including Volvo, Mack, Renault Trucks, Eicher, SDLG and so forth. Many may connect the different brands to different countries, but Volvo Group is focused on running the company as one global entity. They synchronize production between different brands to get economy of scale.
Leif Johansson told me how, inside the company, they half jokingly talk about the “official language of Volvo Group” as “Bad English.”
I find that brilliant. “Bad English” means that, in a conversation, each person should speak a level of English that the other person can understand. If, say, an American fluent in English is speaking to a Korean who is not, and the Korean doesn’t understand the American, then it is the American who is not speaking correctly. Bad English means that it is okay for a person who is not very good in English to speak up anyway. The less fluent English speakers in an organization are encouraged to speak up. The native speakers are encouraged to aim at being understood, instead of flaunting their most advanced English. The focus moves to the message, and away from the grammar. Remember: It is not necessarily the person with the biggest vocabulary who has the best ideas.
According to a study I read, just four percent of all English conversations are between two people both fluent in the language. Ninety-six percent are conversations where at least one person does not have English as his or her native tongue. That means, I guess, that “Bad English” is the official language of the world …
By the way, this whole book is written in “Bad English.” Being a Swede, English is not my native language, but I have chosen to write this book in English anyway. I did so as a celebration of the idea behind “Bad English” — that we should encourage people to dare to speak — and write — their own English in order to get their thoughts and ideas out to the world.
Can You Have a Google Passport?
More precisely: The outdoor café at the corporate headquarters complex of Google at 1,600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California. I was having a smoothie with Rikard Steiber, Global Marketing Director for Mobile Ads at Google.
My first question to Rikard was, “Is Google a global company or an American company?” He pondered this, then said, “We are on our way to becoming a global company.”
In many ways Google already is. The company has more than a billion (1,000,000,000 !) users in 200 countries and territories, which means one in seven people on the face of the Earth is using a Google product. Not bad for a company founded 14 years ago.
I asked Rikard to explain how Google had been effective in building a global company. Rikard looked around at the people sitting at the small tables and explained, “One of the most interesting things with the Google headquarters is that we have people of so many different nationalities, religions and cultures working side by side. Google’s recruitment process is very good at finding people with the same values, regardless of what country they might come from.”
As Global Marketing Director for Mobile Ads, Rikard’s working day is a microcosm of Google and the world. He has a small team of 25 people reporting to him — literally spread out around the world — in London, Paris, Hamburg, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo … and, of course, Mountain View, California. Rikard uses email, phone, video chat and other electronic tools to communicate with his team members, who work together with teams in the local markets to develop new and innovative advertising solutions for the mobile market.
After discussing how global the work environment at Google is, Rikard corrected his initial comment. As he once again looked around at the people sitting under the colorful parasols at the tables in the café, he said, “Actually, what makes Google interesting is not that we have a lot of nationalities working here — but that we have no nationalities working here! They are all just “googlers*.
Be inspired by what Fredrik learned by interviewing the CEO of SKF in a hotel in Beijing, the CMO of Jones Lang La Salle in an office in London and a marketing executive of Google at the Googleplex in San Francisco, plus more insights from the world’s most successful global companies
“Scale, reach, strong balance sheet, and a powerful and unified brand make a big difference. We can get international deals that the smaller companies can’t bid on. Technology is another. With a global business we can develop more advanced solutions and roll them out across the company. We can also invest more in knowledge and research, obviously. Our market knowledge at every level is unparalleled. And then there is the access to the global capital. [As a global company] you add a new dimension of value at scale, market power, recognition and connections globally, nationally and locally.”
“Our objective is to make Evernote available to the entire world. With your help, we can achieve this goal. We have deployed an easy-to-use online tool that allows you to translate as much, or as little, of Evernote as you like. There is no minimum commitment. Translate one line of text or an entire client—it’s up to you.”
“People confuse ‘global’ with being ‘centralized,’ “which is a big mistake...“When I hear [HR people] talk about how HR is ‘aligned with the strategy,’ I become very frustrated! HR has to be an integral part of the strategy.”
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