As the business world has truly become global,
even fairly small, privately owned businesses have become globally active. Therefore, it’s important that they’re tuned in to cultural differences in those countries where they do business. To save money (or make more), it’s critical that they avoid the mistakes made by many multinational companies — and me. In his book, Driven by Difference, David Livermore provides practical tips for companies with diverse customers and/or a diverse workforce, or what he calls “cultural intelligence.” He refers to a Google internal employment survey that discovered teams that were both diverse and inclusive were also the best at innovation.
When I purchased the book, I thought it would be about diversity in the workplace, which it is. But it’s much more. If you’re looking to improve innovation and even marketing in your company, I would highly recommend Driven by Difference. As I’ve done with other books, I’ll whet your appetite with several excerpts:
- “Priming” is the process of presenting a particular stimulus to make people feel and act in a certain way. For example, in supermarkets around the world, freshly cut flowers are the first thing you see, priming you to think freshness from the moment you enter the store.
- There’s insufficient evidence to support any conclusion that one national culture is consistently more innovative than another.
- The gut can be a shockingly reliable mechanism for decision-making, but it’s subject to enormous error when the cultural context changes.
- Most of us start life with a pretty insulated view of the world.
- Most innovators are intense observers.
- Mark Zuckerberg has Facebook engineers prove that what they’re coding works on old, low-end flip phones to simulate the conditions in most of the world.
- There’s evidence that many people do their best independent thinking outside the office.
- Culturally intelligent innovation comes from a climate of trust, where differences are perceived as an asset rather than a liability.
- A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G, which is considered a very innovative company, insists on in-home visits with consumers when he travels internationally. He doesn’t want to make decisions based solely on market research done by consultants or his R&D teams.
Those are some highlights, but Livermore presents lots of really interesting, practical stories.
Again, the underpinnings of the book are diversity, but there are some great reminders of the importance of really listening to and understanding our customers.