The company is global. Its success depends on effective cross-border collaboration. Not only in and between global teams within the company.

But also in the broader business ecosystem, with customers and suppliers. We, the colleagues collaborating, need to understand the influence of culture on our work.


How many people in our team collaborate cross-border? Add just one hour of work per week per person due to cultural misunderstanding.

Then multiply that one hour times forty-eight workweeks. That’s six eight-hour days. Per each one of us. Each and every year. The costs are more than significant:

Let’s assume 10 people x 1.0 extra hour x 48 workweeks x 75 hourly cost = 36,000. That’s 3,600 for each one of us. USD or Euros. Year in, year out.


That’s cost. What about results? When cross-border collaboration does not go well it means over budget, over schedule, poor quality, or a combination thereof.

Take our most important cross-border project. Go over budget 5%, over schedule 5%, reduce quality 5%, or any combination thereof. Not good.

If 5% is too high, reduce it to 2%. Or wait, go down to just 1%. Then run the numbers. Cultural misunderstanding impacts our bottom-line. Negatively.


Costs can be measured. Results, too. What about us? What’s the negative impact on us colleagues when cross-border collaboration is slow, difficult, frustrating?

At best we slog through the work. At worst we’re looking for ways to avoid collaboration. In some cases, some of us might be looking to get out altogether.

You know our team. You know us as performers. Estimate the impact on results if just one of us leaves the team. Or even worse leaves the company.


Wait, let’s not forget our business ecosystem. We’re a global organisation. With colleagues in different countries. Interacting with customers and suppliers.

Cultural differences are at play in those relationships, also. It can’t be any other way. And that means the potential for misunderstanding, confusion, irritation.

Estimate the cost of losing just one of our customers, or losing just one important supplier, in any of the countries where we’re doing business. It can get very painful.

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