According to the latest HBR – Forward Looking cultures generally create more competitive economies… at least, I believe, in the long run. The illustration of the countries studied shows India to be more future oriented than even the US (albeit by a whisker!)! Check it out!
In our study, Singapore emerged as the most future oriented of cultures, followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Malaysia. The least future oriented were Russia, Argentina, Poland, and Hungary. Squarely in the middle were Germany, Taiwan, Korea, and Ireland. Even more important, however, is our further finding that the greater a society’s future orientation, the higher its average GDP per capita and its levels of innovativeness, happiness, confidence, and (as the chart shows) competitiveness
Why is it important for the business? Here is why:
What does this mean for an executive attempting to manage or work with teams in cultures that are less future oriented than their own? First, team members will have different perceptions of the feasibility of forward thinking. Even if the indigenous workers personally value long-term planning, they may see it as futile, given prevailing practices and conditions. But second, because of those shared values, it is possible to inspire people to become more future oriented. The key is to start modestly by setting team goals for, say, a three-month horizon and then ensuring they are met. By gradually increasing time horizons, a manager can endow a team with a sense of control over outcomes that formerly may have seemed hopelessly provisional and remote.
Knowing how future orientation varies from culture to culture can help leaders shift their attitude from judgmental to understanding and focus their collaborative efforts. A true global leader doesn’t blame local teams for failing to immediately live up to their aspirations but rather helps them achieve long-term goals one step at a time.
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