Lifting Globalizers With Elevators

Sep 18, 2019


BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Article ImageThis month, I’m tackling a topic that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. Reflecting on more than 20 years in the area and arena of international content management, global product leadership, and local customer experience I have learned that people come first in all instances in order to perform and outperform both internally and externally. Therefore, it is crucial to develop oneself while lifting others to ensure success remains a collective story—and a human story as well. 

I have taken on this challenge specifically when partnering with globalizers, i.e. those who put a mindset of globality in daily practice. In my experience, globalizers are all people sharing an interest, a stake or an objective in terms of global reach, local resonance, and personal satisfaction when it comes to delighting local customers. In other words, all the people with a continuous globalization mission to leverage global leadership to craft local experiences. I can think of internationalization engineers, experience designers, linguists, terminologists, copywriters, localization managers, business analysts, QA leads, and testing teams. I can also count in local marketing, product, operations, or commercial leaders who are global business generators and localization facilitators. While they all deal with different facets of global content and product strategies they all have international customers in mind.

Although globalizers play a critical role in the digital age, a number of them feel tolerated rather celebrated or sometimes invisible in some parts of a global organization. Elevating globalization—in the broadest sense of the word—from being challenged as a cost driver to being recognized as a profit driver takes a lot of effort and time. Here are a few elevators and actions that can get globalizers out of the dark, a comfort zone or a low-level positioning. Team leaders and members should address this together, especially in silo-based companies. They may want to reflect such actions in team charters and individual objectives as well.

WIDEN your world and move away from what you consider as your area of expertise to EMBRACE different aspects of global content and product leadership. On the one hand, it helps you grasp the big picture. If you are an engineer or a linguist who clearly sees how his or her contribution plays out in product lifecycles and customer journeys, you can not only enhance your current practices if needed but also ENRICH your knowledge, competencies, and skills. This may be very useful when you have to negotiate trade-offs, do more work with less bandwidth or do less work with more value. 

On the other hand, it creates connections or strengthens relationships with other people in the organization, including those who might not know who you are and what you actually do. ENGAGE to increase your visibility. For example, user experience researchers and architects might not see the added value of collaborating closely with localization leads or translators, especially if they sit in organizationally or geographically dispersed teams. Fostering mutual support and increasing complementary strengths create more efficient synergies aiming at delighting customers with linguistically, culturally, and functionally relevant products. Global business is like a puzzle that requires a number of people to have the right piece(s) at the right time. Interacting with stakeholders beyond your team is paramount to collaborate at scale and to shape project teams moving and delivering in an agile fashion.

EVANGELIZE to your organization about globalization standards, best practices and imperatives to FERTILIZE the understanding of localization pain and gain with frequent communications, presentations, and invitations. In addition to scheduled project meetings and business reviews, you should plan training sessions to explain what you and your team do in plain language and highlight your contribution to global and local growth. SHARE operational metrics that cover the amount of work that has been done together with time and cost-effectiveness indicators. LINK these metrics to financial and experience-driven metrics that reflect the actual impression, impact, and imprint on the customer side. For example, if you have localized an application for 25 markets in six weeks you should consider accessibility, memorability, and simplicity analytics to highlight correlations. Combining both categories of data in a dashboard is best to visualize value quickly and tangibly. 

Your co-workers and business partners are also likely to appreciate informal meetings where they can discuss, learn, and take away information at their pace. Such meetings usually help bring up comments, questions, and requests that may remain unspoken or overlooked otherwise. You can even take a gamification approach via lunch-and-learn events or company breakfasts so that people can feel more involved. Why not highlight what would happen if proper internationalization and localization are not managed effectively? Why not organize a “Stump the Expert” quiz where people would have to ask and answer questions about linguistic, cultural, or functional factors driving customer experience around the world? As creativity is intelligence having fun, some people may become globalizers while having fun.

DEVELOP personal competencies that support your know-how and demonstrate your know-how-to-be. NETWORK internally and externally to discover or dive into why others say what they say and do what they do, no matter if you share some common ground with them or not. Soft skills are as important as other skills when it comes to collaborating, communicating, and executing for the sake of international audiences. Your knowledge is most valuable when it is explained, understood and potentially transferred with a great deal of emotional intelligence. Keep in mind that you are talking to human beings most of the time who feel what you do as much as they see it. A global designer who can describe his thinking and point out how it relates to values such as empathy or trust can amplify the impact of his words and visuals. And he or she can also translate tough concepts into simple ideas. 

These suggestions are not limited to global roles in our digital world. Yet they are very relevant on an international scale when the ability to deal with diversity, complexity, and uncertainty is a critical success factor.


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