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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…

Intercultural Business Communications

Writing effective intercultural business communication involves knowing your audience well.

Effective business communication directed at an intercultural audience typically includes a review process to mitigate misunderstandings due to linguistic and cultural differences. Cultural stability, complexity, composition and attitudes all affect communication. Your message may need adjustment for different groups of people. Consult with other people who have done business in cultures you are unfamiliar with to learn about its history, religion, politics and customs.

Step 1
Create an outline for the business communication you need to generate. This might be an email message, technical proposal, policy document or customer service report. Select the method of organization, based on your audience need. Choose order of importance, chronological or alphabetical depending on your content. List items of interest from the specific to general or general to specific depending on what makes the most sense for your intercultural audience.

Step 2
Write your text in under six lines. Each paragraph should focus on a single topic. Avoid using long sentences that may be difficult to read if English is not the reader’s primary language. Make sure your purpose is clear. Avoid using jargon and check your work for spelling, grammar and formatting errors to maintain a professional image.

Step 3
Anticipate the reader’s questions, based on his background. Supply visual images if they complement your written text. Acknowledge different social values and status symbols in your writing. Be aware that not all cultures like to make decisions quickly so consciously avoid asking for immediate action in your business communication. Recognize that some cultures rely on circumstances and implied meaning.

Step 4
Check your business communication to ensure it does not violate any legal or ethical protocol, or any rules of good manners in the culture you are speaking with. Get expert advice, if necessary.

Step 5
Take responsibility for communicating to a diverse audience. By withholding rash judgments, showing respect, empathizing with others and being patient, you can increase your cultural sensitivity.


Intercultural Communication in the Global Marketplace

Learning to communicate across cultures is important for business success.

Ethnic diversity in the workplace is growing and more small enterprises are expanding globally. Different cultures do business differently; when those from one culture fail to understand differences in communications practices of another, confusion and conflict occur. When all parties communicate well across cultures, it results in more satisfactory negotiations and better solutions.

Learn the Basics
When planning to conduct business with someone from another culture, familiarize yourself with the basics of that culture. A culture's concept of authority, its history and its social structure affect its business communications. For example, in France and Belgium, authority figures make the decisions. If your rank is perceived to be higher than others at the table, stating your opinion may cut off discussion. On the other hand, participatory decision-making is a norm in Israel and Sweden; you could be seen as rude if you make a decision unilaterally.

Watch Gestures
One of the biggest intercultural variables is nonverbal communication, such as body language, clothing choices, eye contact, physical contact and personal space. In the age of video conferencing, researching these norms is important even before your first phone call. For example, a common Western practice of sitting with one foot resting on the opposite knee is offensive in the Middle East.

Small Talk
Cultures also differ in the amount of time devoted to building relationships before actually conducting business. In Asian cultures, trust must be built before a successful business partnership can take place. In Korea and Japan, for example, good etiquette requires dining and drinking together. In China, an ancient concept still important today is "face." An American business owner in China can give "face" by attending meetings, accepting invitations and providing suitable expensive gifts. In any culture, take your cue from others in the room and avoid cutting off chitchat.

Be Reserved
Erring on the side of being too reserved is generally better than being too informal too soon. Act as if you are meeting with a dignitary. Avoid slang, which can be considered disrespectful as well as be misunderstood by someone whose native language isn't English. You can always switch to a more animated and informal style later.


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