From Australia to the UK and many countries in between, ExperiencePoint’s training simulations have run in 25 countries so far in 2012!We spoke with James Chisholm, co-founder of ExperiencePoint, to find out why the leadership concepts in its training workshops are creating such an impact across the globe.
How big is ExperiencePoint’s global business?
Even though we are a Canadian company, over 85% of our business comes from outside our borders. About 60% is from the U.S., 25% globally and 15% from the Great White North. We truly play everywhere.
Why do you think your ExperienceChange™ simulation resonates so well around the world?
The world is flat and change is everywhere. If businesses are not initiating change by innovating, they’re changing in response to the innovations of others in their industry. If they’re not doing either, they’re soon “out of business”!
Creating a culture of agility that enables organizations to quickly adapt to changes in the environment is a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not about one leader or a group of leaders understanding how to lead change, but rather everyone in the organization understanding their role and how to manage themselves and their peers through change.
ExperienceChange™ resonates because it feels real. A year in the life of a project team is something we can all relate to, regardless of culture. Participants are asked to collaborate with others to work through a change process and get things done. It’s intense, insightful, and a lot of fun. This mode of learning resonates everywhere we’ve taken it.
Another thing that helps are the scenarios we develop. The GlobalTech case, as the name suggests, describes a company that competes globally. It has external forces outsides of its control like every company. It has a diverse workforce with people issues that transcend cultures. Almost everyone who meets “Scott Bell” (and others) in the simulation shoots a knowing smile as if to say, “I’ve met that type of person before”.
How is the ExperienceInnovation™ way of innovative thinking applicable across borders?
ExperienceInnovation™ teaches an approach to innovation that seeks first to understand what is most desirable to those facing a problem or opportunity. Desirability is heavily context dependent – what makes sense as a solution in the First World, for example, often does not make sense as a solution in the Third World. How often have we heard of ivory tower or headquarter solutions that are out of touch with the reality on the ground?
This is a key benefit of the design thinking process. It challenges problem-solvers to intimately understand the needs of their end users, especially those needs that have yet to be articulated, in order to create breakthrough ideas. Participants learn a range of techniques such as designing low cost experiments that help to reduce risk and strengthen their understanding of what would be most desirable in any given country or situation.
Have you had any unique experiences when holding workshops in different countries?
This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but some of the most pronounced differences come from different company cultures over country cultures. We’ve found the culture of a Fortune 500 company operating in the U.S., Europe and South East Asia to be much more consistent than the countries in which they’re operating.
One of the key indicators we look for in both company and country cultures is decision-making style – does it tend to be more participative or more authoritative? Participants operating in a participatory culture seem to have an easier time connecting with the change concepts and collaborating in their teams to get their change plans completed.
We recently ran ExperienceChange™ in the Middle East with an organization that most western business people would characterize as quite hierarchical. Participants in this workshop were extremely good at understanding the organizational landscape, analyzing stakeholders and focusing on buy-in from key stakeholders as early as possible. They clearly adapted universal principles of change to their own company and country context. Of course, they did very well, too!