Factors Guiding Your Global Learning Initiatives

Thursday, July 28, 2016

An American and an Indian are rushing to an 11:00 meeting. Just outside the meeting place, each runs into a dear friend they have not seen in five years. What happens?

Typically, the American will say a quick hello and mention being late for a meeting. As they rush for the door, the American will tell the old friend that she will email them later to connect. The Indian, on the other hand, will stop and invite the friend to sit down for a cup of coffee.

Who is “rude” in this situation? No doubt, your answer is influenced by your culture.

When you or your organization is initially tasked with taking on a successful learning project global, it may sound easy. Just replicate around the globe what you already produced at home! Right? However, as you likely know, this is very difficult when you consider different expectations, beliefs, languages, and so forth.

It has been my experience that four elements are critical to taking a learning project global. Because all strategies need to be implemented by people, what makes a difference when you go global is having globally effective people. These people are not only aware of and understand the differences in culture, they also have the global skills that enable effective alignment, inclusion, sustainability, and integration of the multiple local projects tied to a global strategy. 


Alignment is gaining agreement about targets at both the global and local levels. it’s important for leaders to reframe the global learning project to be more of a local project in which implementation is based on a global direction. This will allow learning leaders to deal with the global objective, but in a way that addresses (and honors) the local situation. 



Alignment is about direction and targets; inclusion is about involvement and communication. In fact, ultimately, inclusion focuses on how the individuals in the organization choose to use their energy. Communication of a global learning project can often feel as though it is directive. The goal here is to make sure that everyone has the information they need to help them feel involved. The communication systems and processes need to not only be effective at getting the information out as a two-way dialogue, but also effective in a way that is globally aware and sensitive to the local needs. 


This element is about realistic assessment of where you are in the global learning project. Think of sustainability not as maintenance and keeping the project on course, but rather always correcting to put the project on course. Things happen; so if you plan to be always correcting, you take an approach that is much more realistic. That means you need to understand where you are with the project at all times. Then, using the targets set in alignment (and with the help of the people you have involved through inclusion), you learn and adjust. 


When I talk about integration with customers, they often assume that integration is about integrating the global learning project into the existing systems and processes. A better perspective is to think about integrating learning into performance on the job. This is called “learning transfer.”

How does this approach fit with your experience trying to deliver on a global learning project? How could you use these four elements to make the implementation of your next global learning project run more smoothly? Please share your comments, ideas, and experiences in the Comments.

Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from the Wilson Learning Blog.

About the Author
David Yesford, senior vice president of Wilson Learning Worldwide, has more than 29 years of experience developing and implementing human performance solutions around the world. He brings valuable experience, strategic direction, and global perspective to his work with clients. Over the years, David has had strategic roles in his organization’s core content areas of sales and leadership, as well as e-learning and strategic consulting. He is an active member of the Wilson Learning Global Executive Board, with current responsibility at a global level. He has held managing director positions in both China and India.   David is the contributing author of several books, including Win-Win Selling, Versatile Selling, The Social Styles Handbook, and The Sales Training Book 2. He is a frequent international speaker focusing on a variety of issues, including sales and sales strategy, leadership, employee and customer engagement, branding, and strategy implementation. He has been published in numerous business publications in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific region.
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