Read how we have made a positive impact on a small selection of our clients’ businesses by embedding cultural knowledge and skills…
Aalto University was established in 2010 through a merger of three renowned universities in the Helsinki metropolitan area in Finland. The university is about cross-disciplinary projects and learning in practice. Students are encouraged and supported to excel both in their studies and their future careers. It is chaired by Matti Alahuhta, formerly one of the leading Finnish CEOs of his generation. For nearly 20 years, we have delivered a cross-cultural component for a programme at the school of Engineering Management at Aalto. Former students have frequently contacted us, once they are in working life, to ask for our services at their companies.
The Norwegian company, Aker Solutions, wanted a very wide-scale cross-cultural training programme delivering to large numbers of staff. We have given a number of train the trainer programmes to their internal trainers, who went on to train team leaders to facilitate cross-cultural awareness sessions with their teams. They introduced us to the Dialogue Mat methodology of training - which they had previously used for topics such as organizational values and health and safety – and developed a Mat specifically for the cultural initiative. This was a great aid for team leaders in particular, as it can be used in an almost stand-alone way. And we were pleasantly surprised on first meeting HR in Rio de Janeiro, to discover that they already knew the Lewis Model well.
This Swiss company is an internationally active industrial group with broadly diversified businesses. Its activities are in the areas of machinery engineering, sporting goods (the well-known Mammut brand), foam materials, graphic coatings, systems engineering and real estate. We have worked extensively at group level in Switzerland, the USA and China, and also with a number of the different business units, often as the only external keynote presenters at the most senior level gatherings. We have succeeded in building bridges between different businesses and cultures and facilitating the interchange of different perspectives towards common goals.
Deloitte is the largest professional services network in the world by revenue and by the number of professionals. Richard Lewis has been engaged by them in the USA for many years to run both in-house seminars and seminars for groups of Deloitte clients. As the process of globalisation continues, they recognise that getting culture right – both organisational and for competing across borders – is no longer a soft option, but something which delivers hard results.
This Dutch business software company needed to achieve world-class collaboration in its mixed Dutch/Malaysian teams. As the programme was widespread, they asked us to train their internal trainers to deliver it. Their main leadership trainer attended an open train the trainers course at Riversdown house as a first step. She then took additional coaching in the Netherlands during which we worked on creating a one day course tailored precisely for their needs. Recent feedback has been that "the cultural training is gaining in popularity – the people who followed it are spreading the word that it’s a very useful training"
We helped the Finnish government prepare for EU entry and both its EU Presidencies so far. The CultureActive assessment was created out of our experiences with Nokia in its period of massive global expansion plus our work on the first Finnish EU Presidency of 1999. Dozens of chair people from all ministries went through assessments followed by training in presiding over cross-cultural meetings in an EU context, as well as communication coaching in chairmanship skills. Both Presidencies were judged a success and Richard Lewis was given the award Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland by Nobel Laureate President Ahtisaari as a consequence. The honour was upgraded to Knight Commander following the second Presidency. Pertti Salolainen, former Ambassador of Finland in the United Kingdom, has commented “It is absolutely amazing how well Richard Lewis can penetrate the Finnish soul.”
First Quantum Minerals
First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has been growing rapidly through global acquisitions. They had already carried out an exercise to capture, articulate and share the essential DNA which had led to their success. Our role was to map that against the national and regional cultures they operate in and create a Cross-Cultural Tool Kit. The purpose: to ensure that their corporate behaviour and values were fully understood and embraced, leading to future success in an increasingly complex environment. The interplay between corporate and national cultures is a key challenge for many organisations.
KONE, Toshiba and China
At the beginning of the 1970s KONE, a highly successful manufacturer of lifts, cranes and escalators was in the top 20 in the world in their field, but had ambitions to rise further. Richard Lewis Communications were appointed as cultural advisors and, in the following 20 years, KONE bought up elevator companies in most of Europe – France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Austria.
In 1998, KONE cast their eyes on Asia and invited Richard Lewis to fly out personally with their Board to establish relations with the giant Japanese conglomerate Toshiba. Ensconced in a Tokyo hotel, the Finns and Richard practised Japanese negotiating techniques for 2 days before meeting the Toshiba representatives. The resultant profitable KONE–Toshiba alliance led to a subsequent successful entry into the Chinese market. Today, KONE is world no. 2 or 3 in lifts with China as its largest market.
LSG Sky Chefs
Around the turn of the century, Lufthansa – Europe’s largest airline – wished to improve its catering service significantly by acquiring the American company LSG Sky Chefs, one of the best in its field. The acquisition posed a big cultural challenge since Sky Chefs, though American, had its chief base in Malaysia and employed 5,000 personnel from over 25 different countries, including many Asians. Richard Lewis Communications was appointed as cultural advisers and gave seminars pinpointing a “strength in togetherness” policy, highlighting the following combinations:
• American drive + German efficiency
• American speed + German stamina
• American opportunism + German discipline
• American ideas + German implementation
• American action-orientation + German planning
• American risk-taking + German prudence
• American future-orientation + German respect for the past
With regard to other nationalities, reference was also made to the use of Italian imagination, French vision, Korean work ethic, Filipino adaptability, Nordic accuracy, Latino flexibility, British humour and Spanish warmth.
The merger was a great success.
Orion has been a client for 25 years and has taken many different types of cross-cultural training. In recent years the focus has been very much on India, as work has been outsourced to Mumbai. The India office continues to grow, and both introductory and advanced sessions have been run for around 200 Finnish managers as well as webinars for many of the Indian staff. A key message is that building trusting mixed Finnish-Indian teams who understand each other’s very different cultures and ways of working, will give a measurable edge, in a highly competitive industry. The live sessions are highly interactive, and include the chance for participants to interview a well-known Indian cross-culturalist by video link about the concrete specifics of their work, and how to achieve the very best results when working with their Indian colleagues.
Saïd Business School
We have run many programmes at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, over the last decade – all delivered by our Vice Chairman, Michael Gates, who is an Associate Fellow of the school. The main course he teaches on is the Oxford Programme on Negotiation (OPN). But he also teaches on customised courses for Chinese and Indian clients, and has taught on leadership programmes. We have also presented on the link between national and corporate cultures at an international conference at the school, and have been involved in programmes not on campus – for instance for the UN in Vienna. The cultural module on OPN invariably receives extremely high ratings, is a very popular part of the course, and many participants remark that they were able to put what they learned in practice immediately – with better outcomes in their negotiations.
Siemens Wind Power has been growing rapidly in Denmark, and has been running a three day induction programme for new leaders for a number of years. As multicultural teams are increasingly a daily reality for many staff, we have been providing a half day module at the end of the programme, based around the CultureActive group assessment results. The module introduces participants to why culture is important, to the interplay between national and corporate cultures, and on how to work together more efficiently and productively in diverse teams at Siemens Wind. Around 2000 employees have taken the module so far as part of the induction and other staff have also taken training on a wide variety of specific cultures.
We have worked for Sony Mobile Communications since it was founded in autumn 2001 (as Sony Ericsson), delivering workshops mainly in Sweden, but also in the Americas. The main aim has been to increase understanding of the Japanese for European and American staff. Our knowledge of Japanese culture is unrivalled in the cross-cultural training field, and comes from our long association with Japan, where Richard Lewis tutored the Empress and other members of the Imperial Family. Our trainer, although British, is bilingual in English and Japanese, and also runs workshops in Japanese to increase cross-cultural understanding of the West.
In preparation for Japan’s biggest pharmaceutical company’s acquisition of Norwegian-originating Nycomed, we worked with many transition teams and other staff to bring the two cultures together and create synergy. As well as plotting the ‘cultural hot-spots’ through the use of CultureActive, we gave individual coaching to senior Western managers for their interactions with the Japanese, training to Japanese staff (in Japanese) to Chinese staff (in Mandarin) and Norwegian staff (in Norwegian). With the appointment of Christophe Weber as CEO in spring 2015, Takeda is now one of the very few Japanese companies to be led by a non-Japanese – a true step towards multiculturalism by a Japanese organization.
TCA is a company founded by Tim Cullen, former Chief Spokesman of the World Bank, founder of the Oxford Programme on Negotiation and of the Small Countries Financial Management Programme. Its focus is on helping achieve the best possible outcomes in international business negotiations. TCA specialises in China – both for Western companies negotiating with the Chinese and Chinese companies negotiating with the West. Much of its work is based on solid research with a team of senior experts, and on actually accompanying clients during negotiation, as part of their in-house team. Our role is to provide the cross-cultural elements of the package. We were also involved in the creation of the concept and are represented on the board of directors.
Telefónica is the number one Spanish multinational by market capitalisation and one of the largest private telecommunications companies in the world.
As globalisation and interdependence increases, we have worked with their top sales management teams to boost international collaboration on global client cases.
Innovative sessions have been run in which our trainers have worked alongside Telefonica senior management to back up our cross-cultural insights with real-life cases and panel discussions.
To ensure dissemination of the ideas throughout the organisation in a sustainable way, we have also trained their internal behavioural skills trainers to deliver cross-cultural sessions internally.
Like many companies, Tesco outsources IT to India. Their operations there are crucial to the smooth running of Tesco across the Group. Their sourcing team ensures that their stores around the world are well-stocked with products from Indian suppliers.
Hindustan Service Centre (HSC), the global services arm for Tesco worldwide, provides key business services for Tesco operations globally. Currently the HSC team is 6500+ people strong and is involved in creating and executing strategic initiatives covering IT, Financial, Commercial and Property, among others. We have worked with the Indian management team in strengthening cross-cultural team work with non-Indian colleagues.
The Swedish Royal Institute of Technology
When President Obama visited Stockholm in 2013 he chose to visit KTH (The Swedish Royal Institute of Technology), as one of the world’s leading technical universities. We have been providing cross-cultural training modules for both open and closed company programmes for more than a decade. The aim has mainly been to prepare participants for leading change in a multicultural environment, but also to help them work more successfully together in diverse national groups during their training programmes, which can last for up to six months. Understanding the cultures of their fellow team members during the training focuses them on the process of communication and how to make team work more efficient and productive, using diversity as a strength.