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Design Thinking With Culture Differences

We are used to the developing of new products and innovating in different areas of our companies but, have we ever considered that cultural diversity and multiple countries can make a difference when designing our products and processes?

When we implement an internationalization process we have to scale our businesses considering our customers, products and even our business model. We also have to defend our position in new economies and compete with strong local players.

Our great weapon, although some managers can think different, is innovation. If we have for example a product very innovative that really fits the market where we are implementing our strategy to internationalize, we really have a great competitive advantage.

When we develop an innovation culture inside our organizations we can discover more easily profitable business opportunities. Design thinking can help us bring new products to new markets taking into account cultural differences like own language, different dress, traditions, lifestyle, designs, food, customs.

Before you start with a session of Design Thinking try to define between three to five characteristics of the culture or country you want to develop your organization. Above that, you can also consider which industries are in development or with very positive perspectives of growing to decide that internationalization process.

To be successful in other countries and cultures you need your organizations to operate excellently. Most economies are demanding extremely high quality products, so you should not consider second level brands to move forward in new emerging markets or in developing economies.

Design Thinking will help you with the appropriate approach with your customers in those markets. In the case of applying the five steps of DT you can improve considerably the results in the market. DT is a great tool for it. So empathize with your customer. It is very important to observe it in the work and market place. Define the real topic. Brainstorming and creating new and innovative ideas. Don’t lose time, prototypes are key in this stage. Time to test all what you created, obtain feedback, and iterate.

When you are in a different market, events happen in a different way as we can expect. Observing behaviors of the markets and customers will be crucial to be successful. We will gain the cultural differences they have if we compare with ours. In our Design Thinking process, we must consider all those differences to be really innovative facing market challenges. I would recommend that our managers, marketing staff and sales organization become in charge of the observation activity. It will feed them with relevant information.

Putting in practice all we learn with Design Thinking brings us to emphasize in benchmarking with our local competitors. How important it is to observe local and foreign competitors! They will give us new ideas in our offer portfolio.

We need very flexible organizations to face the challenges other markets can offer us. So, think always when you involve your team in a Design Thinking activity where cultural differences could affect your decisions. Don’t try to introduce your customs in different countries. Try to adapt your way to those other cultures.

Testing and trying ideas, obtaining the right feedback from the market and your customers and then iterating will be essential to be successful with your development in other economies.

Technology, Digital Transformation, Glocalization and Cultural Diversity will shape the new business landscape of the future. Don’t hesitate to learn and prepare to go beyond your borders. The world is not so flat.

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