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Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy Hardcover – 23 Aug 2013
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This is a thought–provoking read for anyone working across cultures. (The CA, August 2013)
"With case studies from Asia, Europe and the US, the book offers a thorough insight into how even the smallest of cultural traits can affect businesses immensely. (GulfBusiness.com, September 2013)
The book offers a readable tour through organisational culture (Professional Manager, September 2013)
in focusing on culture they are clearly onto something important Fish Can t See Water is full of interesting insights into modern business. (The Economist, October 2013)
The real challenge this book provides is that companies need to recognise that cultural change does not happen simply by chance or desire, but requires real management focus throughout the organisation. The opportunity that awaits those organisations that achieve this is extraordinary and creates long–term sustainable businesses. (Financial Advisor, April 2014)
How national culture impacts organisational culture—and business successSee all Product description
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In this volume, Hammerich and Lewis focus on these specific phenomena:
o How values, beliefs, and assumptions are embedded in an organization by its founder(s) and leaders
o The "Lewis Model" that triangulates national cultures (i.e. linear-active, multi-active, and reactive national)
o The defining traits of key nations (e.g. France, Italy, Great Britain, and USA)
o The "Cultural Dynamics Model" ® and the concept of a cultural dynamic
o Lifecycle periods (e.g. organizational, such as those discussed by Ichak Adizes in Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die and What to Do About It)
o The growth period during which companies expand the nature and extent of their operations
o The maturity period with its phases of efficiency, scale, and in some instances consolidation
o "Whither the West" in terms of the impact of what Tom Friedman characterizes as a "flat world" has on western nations as they compete globally
o An existential crisis whose details are best revealed within the narrative, in context
How can business leaders "see the water that surrounds them," water that may be red with ferocious competition, white with uncertainty, or blue (as W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne suggest) with opportunity? Hammerich and Lewis recommend a five-step framework:
1. Determine the main dimensions of the [given] company's strategy and cultural alignment using the Cultural Dynamics Model ®
2. Classify the national type that reflects the embedded national values using the Lewis model
3. Identify where the company is in its lifecycle
4. Establish how national culture may have enabled and/or derailed success at the most recent transformation point and could impact the organization at the next
5. Diagnose signs of a potential crisis that could accentuate a cultural dynamic and create a life-threatening situation for the company
Hammerich and Lewis explain how to prepare for, implement, and then sustain -- rather than complete -- a process of constant adjustment, one prescribed by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." It was true then and is even truer now when change is the only constant and it occurs faster and with greater impact than at any prior time that I can recall.
Confident that the world will become multicultural but one in which differences are respected and diversity is appreciated. Kai Hammerich and Richard Lewis conclude, "Organizational culture is the result of all the decisions made and actions taken in an organization over time. Culture is behaviour and behaviour defines culture. Culture is man-made and therefore can be directed by man. Thus, whichever direction the world takes, we can only point the finger in one direction -- toward ourselves. And herein lies our biggest opportunity!"
The book uses the Lewis model (from Richard D Lewis' book: When Cultures Collide) to define and describe national types and their uniqueness, complemented by the new Cultural Dynamic model.
The two authors, who come from very different and diverse background, use their two models to explain how national and business cultural influencers impact work and management practices over the business cycle - and through this the effectiveness of strategy execution.
This book confirms the simple truism that "Culture eats strategy for lunch".
The many cases of global corporations such as Sony, Samsung, P&G, GM, Walmart, Nokia and Toyota, are clearly extensively researched.
While the topic of corporate is prone to stereotyping and cliches, the authors manage to convincingly present a new line of thinking in each case to explain how the national culture profoundly impacted the success of these companies - yet, often without the management or board noticing the critical enabling or derailing cultural dynamics.
However, the book is also practical and suggests how Western companies can more effectively deal with other cultures, and how companies can improve their response to the inevitable corporate crises and how each nation face their own unique challenges from globalisation.
Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy
There are a number of sweeping generalisations but this is an interesting read and may help if you work with other nationalists and cultures.
The principles also, although aimed it seems through the examples at large corporate interests, are as applicable to small businesses venturing overseas too. A decent enough handbook and worth a look.
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