TON: How culture can impact successful delivery in outsourcing and offshoring

September 11, 2015

We held a TON network program on September 10, 2015 at FLSmidth. The program took a look at the way that culture can impact our efforts to deliver success through offshoring and outsourcing.


We would like to offer a particularly big thanks to the FLSmidth Airtech team for hosting and providing several valuable sessions for the program. Henrik Vittrup Pedersen kicked things off with a short introduction to the business and a focus on why offshoring and outsourcing are key elements in FLSA’s being able to globally serve their market. Jørgen Christian Iversen followed up with a look at FLSA’s recent efforts to establish a project office in Turkey. Key reasoning included the ability to be agile while striking a balance with being part of a much larger organization.


Katinka Hyllested from The Living Institute delivered a strong session on how cultural intelligence is critical to being able to boost results in outsourcing and offshoring. Among the points of knowledge shared, Katinka pointed to the low performance and higher disfunctionality of non-diverse teams vs. the generally higher performance and more innovative results able to be delivered by more diverse teams. Some of the interesting concepts raised included “the illusion of sameness” i.e. how distance reduces nuance and how cultural artifacts can often be mistaken for cultural values. Katinka also introduced a couple of blind spots specific to Danes, e.g. a low fear of shame and direct communications. Central to Katinka’s point is that when it comes to culture, there is not necessarily a right or a wrong but, it is critical to understand what the differences are so that people can act in a way that produces positive results.


Katinka moderated a panel discussion of the cultural challenges of working with Danes with a particular focus on important boundaries and skills for cross-cultural communication. Our panelists, Sertaç Boz from FLSmidth Airtech and Abhijit Tuljapurkar from Danske Bank, were able to share their experiences as foreigners working with Danes, opening up a great discussion with the network.


Flemming Jensen from FLSA, tossed a challenge out to the network: how to increase collaboration and integration in a cross-cultural environment. Teams in India and Denmark that work quite well on their own, have been challenged to be able to deliver across the locations. Flemming’s challenge to the group was to come with the “recipe” for fixing this. Among the ideas developed during our small group discussions were expanding kick-off events to include the whole team; implementing “train-the-trainer” to help enhance the desired behavior; and clarifying the sense of urgency for working this way.


Our final session of the day was Carlsberg’s William Menzel’s insight to the way that cultural diversity can impact inter-vendor work. As Carlsberg is engaged in a substantial centralization exercise, this is an issue critical to future success. As Carlsberg expresses it, they need to address this issue so that their organization is “fit for the future.”


We are really looking forward to our next TON program which will be held on November 5 at Vestas. Click here for a peak at some program highlights.