Of all the lessons that come with "going global", the one that is arguably the most important of all is still proving a difficult pill to swallow. That is the admission that "you got it wrong". So observes Ashridge Management College's Dr Ariane Antal as she sets up IOC-Ashridge, a new French-based centre devoted to helping organisations manage change. Dr Antal cites two prime elements needed for international success: the ability to be fluid, and the ability to find the right balance between meeting local and global needs. "But the ability to admit failure is what is really going to make for success in the future," she says. This is so because the world is in such a flux of changing markets and capabilities that no single model will now ensure success. The whole culture of companies must be changed so that all learning experiences are shared - from top to bottom and from country to country, "so that you don't have to recreate the wheel everywhere in the world". Adds colleague Kevin Barham, "Managers frequently say, 'We tend to bury mistakes here without discussing them'. Yet the most successful managers are those who exploit the learning from them." Not only must forums be created where employees will admit to problems, but even the chairman must learn to say "I got it wrong". Only then is it possible to get it right.
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