Wholesale globalisation suits no one. While it may look great on paper, especially the numbers, in practice it can be patronising and restrictive. By Philip Gregory, senior regional executive: Johnson Controls GWS, Middle East & Africa
Companies, with their Real Estate and Facilities Management (REFM) providers, need to strike a balance between the best of global and local. They must satisfy this subtle, contrary demand to achieve the economies of scale, process efficiency and quality assurance needed for their businesses to compete and retain customers in today’s dynamic markets. Achieving this is “glocalisation”.
The start of the global/local balancing act
Obvious as it may seem, there’s no point changing the REFM organisation if the business, its organisation and infrastructure won’t support it. For example, plant manufacturers in many global manufacturing firms often have autonomous authority to manage their facilities, which makes it difficult (if not counterproductive or entirely impossible) to globalise maintenance and operations.
Some things are too important to a company’s ability to trade, and/or its image and reputation to allow any flex at local level. Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) is an excellent example, particularly in highly regulated industries where lost-time incidents or sloppy production environments have the potential to damage life and shut a business down.
There are other things which don’t translate across regions and boundaries. Local legislation and culture often dictate that Human Resources (HR) decisions are best made country by country. One leading technology business, for example, recently “de-globalised” HR processes in Asia on realising its global KPIs could never match local expectations around career movement and progression.
A helpful analogy to visualise glocal enablers: The abacus
There is no one-size-fits-all glocalisation standard. A helpful analogy to visualise enablers on the global/ local spectrum is the abacus. Companies and their REFM providers must allow people to operate between the extremes of globalisation and local organisation. Key enablers such as process and technology should match and support their movement with an appropriate degree of flex.
Process must have a strong, global element
There must be a strong, global element to all processes for quality assurance, and to ensure consistency of service delivery and data generation. Having said that, any new process needs significant local sponsorship to be adopted. The degree of process localisation will vary according to type.
Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) maintenance processes are predominantly global and 99 percent non-negotiable, else we’d never deliver the technical excellence we promise. We’re acutely aware of this at the same time as knowing that without local buy-in, their implementation will likely fail. So, in a recent series of Kaizen events we gathered managers from three regions to re-design several global processes. Initially, everyone believed their way was best. Discussions revealed there was no best way, and over two days consensus was reached on a new, global way of working. It’s about managing behaviours and embedding a culture of ‘we’ as opposed to ‘me’.
HR processes, on the other hand, require much more local variation because they must be compliant as well as culturally relevant. Accounting for difference between mature and emerging markets is a further consideration.
Technology will help the global strategist and the local tactician
At first thought, technology is simply universal. The Internet of Things connects everything. However, there are very clear inputs, outputs, aims and objectives associated with technology that oscillate between global and local.
An easy analogy says technology enables strategy at global level; and tactics – or operational excellence through effective deployment of resources, work order management and asset inventory – at a more local level. A closer look reveals glocal interdependencies for strategists and tacticians:
Global and strategic: The inputs needed to make technology a global enabler hail from local sources. Lease information, occupancy sensors, financial data, asset information – all feed into one platform that enables a portfolio to be viewed transparently, both in its entirety and in granular detail. A typical series of technology queries, show the beads on the abacus move diagonally from global to local, and then back again.
Tactical and local: Another view of technology is as an operational enabler. In this guise it facilitates efficiency on the ground as well as generates visibility from the cloud. There is a cycle, or flow, that starts with a service request at local level calling on global systems and processes to deploy the appropriate resource and ensure a job is done well (by a local person, obviously). Customer satisfaction, cost and asset performance are assessed against global metrics, and reported in like fashion.
These views, which could be summarized as ‘global powers the system, local delivers it’ lead neatly to the most important glocal enabler: people.
People are the essence of success
Physical presence can only ever be local, so mind sets must be global: the key to any business success is to create organisations that embrace and enact shared visions and values.
It’s sometimes impossible for the right hand to know what the left is doing, especially in multinational organisations where people can’t always, or rarely meet in person. Strong culture, communication and leadership are essential to ensure that when people act independently, they’re in pursuit of the same goal.
Our five key steps to enable a successful glocal organisation can also be viewed as enablers, or change agents, for the people enabler.
Five steps to enable a glocal model:
* Embed a clear decision making structure. The devil, as they say, is in the detail. Don’t assume everyone thinks or works the same; take time to establish mutual understandings and expectations around roles and responsibilities. Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed (RACI) make authority and autonomy clear on who has final say, what can flex and what cannot.
* Engage people. The less control people have over change, the more likely they are to resist it. Give them a stake in success – if they feel like they’ve built a process or brought an innovation to life, they’re likely to want it to succeed. If you bark orders from head office expect them to switch off, especially the bright ones. Sign everyone up to a simple global vision and build a truly glocal team: people working in synergy around the world in pursuit of a common goal.
* Recruit to the model. Healthy tension in any organisation is good. ‘Yes men’ and people who pay lip service are not. It’s obvious you need to recruit fresh blood to invigorate the system, as well as promote and reward existing employees who model and act the right behaviours. You want to end up with a company that lives and breathes its values – from ethics and integrity, to customer satisfaction and operational excellence.
* Communicate, communicate and communicate. If you want local teams to adopt your glocal vision you need to communicate it consistently, constantly, clearly. Left alone, things revert to their natural state. This is nowhere truer than of people, their routine and habits. People need to be reminded what’s expected and included in a real dialogue that affirms why. See point two, above: Engage them.
* Show strong leadership. Alignment in the leadership team is essential. Everyone needs to agree – to a very strong degree – on the glocal model, and become its ambassador. Be diplomatic: show willingness to flex but not to yield.
REFM organisations, much like the companies they serve, have little choice but to embrace globalisation. The key to their success lies in identifying where to allow local variation, as well as include the local organisation in the design, implementation and development of global tools and models. Or, as we call it, the ability to glocalise.
People, process and technology are obvious but key glocal enablers, all demanding different degrees of treatment on the global/ local spectrum. The abacus is a useful analogy to visualise where they start, and have to move from and to in order to support a business and its portfolio operations – with transparency and control on the global hand, and service delivery excellence on the local one.
Process and technology are nothing without people, however. Only those who can win hearts and minds, communicate consistently, and lead with clarity and purpose will succeed in our increasingly competitive world.