Global & Local

Globally local and locally global

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in July 2007 ……

I think I have never explained why I named this blog “Globally Local and Locally Global” so here goes.*

For me, those 5 words represent the deepest, most difficult challenge of all global intranets and portals.

And I do mean 5 words, and not 4. The “and” is as important – if not more – than the other 2 sides of the equation!

Here are some questions and answers for each part of the equation:

 “Globally Local” challenges

Q: How do home pages that are supposed to be the single point of entry for the entire organization become meaningful to people in the field, in offices far from the center?

A: By being “Globally Local” in that they successfully blend global and local news from around the organization, and offer customized versions that “speak to” everyone.

Q: How do global intranet teams define strategies that will really work around the world, that are realistic and doable?

A: By including intranet managers from around the world into the thinking and planning from the beginning.

Q: How can you implement shared models and procedures to bring coherence to a diversified and decentralized  family of intranets?

A: By starting with a true globalization strategy that passes through the internationalization phase (building models that take differences into account)  before the localization phase (where local teams adapt to their needs).

“Locally Global” challenges

Q: How can you help people in operations and field units see the big picture, become interested in what is happening across the organization, see beyond their own local unit?

A: By bringing global news and services to them in an non intrusive way, through opt-in feeds for example, and by making sure news from operations gets promoted on the intranet. (Too often, news on the home page is limited to sales and marketing accomplishments.)

Q: How can you get more cross organization information flowing – get people in local units more involved with people in other units and the center?

A: By implementing light-weight collaboration tools such as blogs and wikis that make it easy for even the smallest units with the least on-site IT support to get involved.

And finally, the “and” challenge

Q: How can you ensure that your intranet and portal strategies will meet the needs of all your users?

A: By talking to them and listening before you decide to implement. (All the intranet audits I’ve conducted for  global organizations – and I’ve done a lot – have had one thing in common: the people from the small countries or business units respond to the request to be interviewed much faster than people from the big countries and BUs. Why? Because it is relatively rare that the center asks them what they think, and what their needs are in advance of a new implementation. They are almost always happy and willing to be involved.)

Q: How can you decide what should be standardized globally and what should be left to local preferences?

A: By making sure your standardization on the intranet keeps pace, but does not move faster than the standardization of processes within your organization.

The intranet must be aligned with organizational and business strategies, not behind and not in advance. Being behind pulls the organization down; being too far ahead makes it unrealistic to achieve.

This chart shows the 2006 survey results (published as Global Intranet Trends for 2007) to the question: How are decision-making & responsibilities balanced between the center and the different entities?



* Footnote December 2011: the blog is no longer called “Globally Local – Locally Global” but it carried that name for several years.