Enhancing multinational multicultural team efficiency

9 Jan 2012 Sandeep Mehta

We have discussed how team become virtual even if the members are just on different floors of the same building.  We have also discussed barriers to the success of  large teams.  Corporate Executive Board provides  two more points to keep in mind:

1. Set up organization structures and processes to work across cultural diversity.

The firm created “local growth teams” consisting of regional experts in sales, marketing, and distribution, and “global product teams” of engineers and product specialists with visibility across all regions to avoid product proliferation or cannibalization.
The local teams are given incentives to maximize local growth and the global teams to maximize global product revenue. The firm then runs frequent sessions where all regional teams meet with each other and the global team to share ideas. This clear structure with its division of labor and supporting rules and processes leads to a harmonious and effective team.

2. Provide teams with effective tools to address diversity and communicate effectively across cultural barriers.

Schlumberger, an oil services firm, provides its R&D teams with a set of guidelines to help overcome project execution problems common to global teams. These include detailed role descriptions for all team members, clear rules on working across time zones, training on common cultural differences and ways of working, and budget for initial in-person meetings between all team members, as well as check-in meetings every two to three months.

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