Summer Reflections on Global Mindset Development
As a training organization, although we do our very best to collect feedback from our workshops, we don’t always have the opportunity to see the lasting impact that our programs have on participants. Which is why we were so pleased to see an article written by Hanne Blume, HR Director for DONG Energy, Denmark’s largest energy company. Blume reflects on the importance of developing a global mindset, post one of our cultural workshops for their organization.
The article below was originally published in Finans, a financial publication in Denmark. We’ve translated the article into English for our non-Danish speaking audience.
Do you really have a global mindset?
A global mindset is not just about being able to master three or four languages, or whether you’ve lived in Germany or only in Aarhus (Denmark). It’s about being aware of national and cultural differences, according to Hanne Blume, HR Director for DONG Energy.
Last summer, fifty-eight percent of Danes went on holiday abroad, according to a study by Epinion for Deloitte. Over the next few weeks, we will pack suitcases and travel bags and do so again.
As you relax with your feet in the water in a new and different place, I recommend taking a moment to think about how “global” you really are.
Recently, a good colleague of mine told me that in Taiwan, contrary to how it is in Denmark, it’s considered rude to finish everything on your plate, because in doing so you are telling your host they haven’t provided enough food. Another colleague shared that when holding meetings in Taiwan, you can get off on the wrong foot if you are dressed too casually or you are not sitting properly in your chair.
Thus, a global mindset is not just about mastering three or four languages, or whether you have lived in Germany or only in Aarhus. It’s about being aware of national and cultural differences, recognizing them and being able to adapt and find value in them. And we need it.
While some countries these days are closing off and becoming more nationalistic, we at DONG Energy, as well as other global Danish companies, are increasingly demanding the opposite attitude.
At DONG Energy, transformation is imminent. We went from being a national energy company to being a global leader in offshore wind power, with a presence in, among others, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S.A., and Taiwan.
Twenty percent of our employees are employed outside Denmark. Engineers, technicians, economists and other professional groups work closely together across national borders. This will only increase as we continue to expand globally in the coming years.
We need colleagues who respect and can work with others — no matter who they are or wherever they are. We need diversity and we need people who do not see differences in culture, sex, age, education, religion, and language as obstacles, but as opportunities.
In order to improve, we work with Aperian Global, who are experts in developing global organizations. They operate within the framework of the “five phases of globalization,” describing where one can be in terms of global mindset. And it’s about everything but finding one’s way around Hamburg, Boston or Taipei:
Denial. You have little or no interest in and generally reject other cultures.
Polarization. You have an “us against them” view. The “Other” is either better than “us”, or worse than “us.”
Minimization. You think we’re all alike, that we basically all have comparable universal values.
Acceptance. You acknowledge that other cultures and norms are different from yours, but are equal.
Adaptation. You understand, can, and will continuously adapt yourself to cultures and norms different from your own.
In the first phase, denial, for example, you will never eat anything other than Danish meatballs called frikadeller (which I also love a lot). While with the utmost global mindset and acceptance, you also understand, respect, and eat local food, and appreciate other cultures.
And it’s not just big companies that need your global mindset. We also have a need for this as a nation. Denmark is simply a small country in a big world. We need to be open and be able to commit ourselves globally. And to get something good out of it.
So when you are going out to eat on vacation in the next few weeks, it is worth considering whether you should order Danish meatballs, or eat something that is most different from Danish cuisine — and value the experience.
Have a good holiday!