Chapter 22Instigating Change in a Foreign Culture

Leading, managing and instigating change is hard enough when you are in your own country and within a familiar corporate culture. It becomes considerably more challenging in a foreign country.

The fundamentals are the same – define the outcomes and the rationale for change, engage stakeholders, assess options, clarify the implications, clarify accountabilities, constant communication …

But how you go about it and the pace at which you approach it will be completely different.

I suppose this shouldn't have come as a surprise to me. After all, change is entirely cultural. Changing outcomes, changing outputs, changing processes all require the adoption of new behaviours. Changing ‘what’ is delivered is only done through changing ‘how’ it is delivered (and people will only do that if they understand ‘why’).

But it did.

I grew up in Australia. I went to school in Australia. I went to university in Australia. My first seven full-time jobs were in Australia. Then, in 1999, at the ripe old age of 35, I moved to the UK. Since then, I have helped organisations to instigate strategic change throughout the UK, Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East.

One of the key things I have learned from an eclectic mix of successes, near-misses, disappointments and outright failures across all of these continents is that your change process needs to be entirely flexible. It needs to flex with the culture of the organisation, which, in turn, is heavily ...

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