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The Five Characteristics of Successful Innovators

There is not much agreement about what makes an idea innovative, and what makes an innovative idea valuable. For example, discussions on whether the internet is a better invention than the wheel are more likely to reveal personal preferences than logical argumentation. Likewise, experts disagree on the type and level of innovation that is most beneficial for organizations. Somestudiessuggest that radical innovation (which does sound sexy) confers sustainable competitive advantages, butothersshow that “mild” innovation – think iPhone 5 rather than the original iPhone – is generally more effective, not least because it reduces market uncertainty. There is also inconclusive evidence on whether we should pay attention to consumers’ views, with somestudiesshowing that a customer focus is detrimental for innovation because it equates to playing catch-up, butothersarguing for it. Even Henry Ford’s famous quote on the subject – “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said fast…

How Can Cultural Differences Affect Business Communication?

Simple gestures can mean different things for people of different cultures, and can affect business communication.
Simple gestures can mean different things for people of different cultures, and can affect business communication.

In the business world, communication is imperative for the successful execution of daily operations. Understanding cultural differences and overcoming language barriers are some of the considerations people should have when dealing with business with people of various cultures. Often business deals are lost because the parties involved did not take the time to learn about their each others' cultures prior to interacting.

Customs

When doing business with an affiliate from another country, consider the cultural differences that may be presented. This includes basic customs, mannerisms and gestures. For example, If a salesperson approaches a meeting with knowledge of a customer’s cultural background, then his words, body language and actions can all be adapted to better suit those of the customers. This in turn may lead to being better liked by the customer, ultimately increasing the salesperson's opportunity to close the deal.

Language Barriers

In some countries, like the United States and Germany, it is common for people to speak loudly and be more assertive or aggressive when sharing ideas or giving direction. In countries like Japan, people typically speak softly and are more passive about sharing ideas or making suggestions. When interacting with people from different cultures, speaking in a neutral tone and making a conscious effort to be considerate of others' input, even if it is given in a manner to which you are not accustomed, can help foster effective business communication.
When launching a marketing campaign or advertising to members of a different culture, always research the target market prior to beginning the campaign. Levels of conservatism, gender views and ideologies can vary greatly between cultures. Presenting a campaign that is not in line with specific cultural norms can insult the target audience and greatly hinder the campaign. Being aware of cultural norms can also help your company narrow down the target audience. For instance, in Japan and Austria, men usually are in control of decision making, but women make the majority of purchasing decisions in Sweden.

Technology

Due to globalization, people from various cultures and countries increasing conduct business with each other. Technology enables people to easily connect with people around the world in a moment's notice, but there are a few rules to remember before doing so. If making an international phone or video conferencing call, be conscious of the time zone differences and make sure to set a reasonable time for all involved parties to interact. It is important to remember that cultural differences can also affect availability. For instance, just because you schedule a conference call for the middle of the business day does not mean that the time will be favorable for the people you are conducting business with. Many Spanish cultures have longer lunch breaks than Americans are accustomed to, which means there may be a two- to three-hour time period during the day in which the person you would like to meet with is unavailable. Asking for availability prior to making the call is the best way to avoid any confusion. Once you are able to connect, speak clearly and slowly.

Politics

Political influences, both past and present, can potentially affect the way a person or company does business. Some cultures have a very strong sense of nationalism and government pride, and therefore, are more comfortable and willing to purchase from companies with some sort of government backing. Conducting business with those of differing cultures can also impact negotiations if there are on-going political disputes between the involved parties' countries of origin. To avoid conflict, it is best to avoid discussing any political matter that does not directly pertain to the business at hand. This is also true for inter-office interactions.

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