Training Leaders for the New Global Economy: How Do We Compete?

April 28, 2015

In our April Round Table Meetings we discussed the topic: “Training Leaders for the New Global Economy:  How Do We Compete?

This proved to be a challenging topic that led to much discussion on the future of the business world and how we as business leaders can prepare for the upcoming changes. Below are the notes from our discussions.

Kalamazoo -Thursday, April 9, 2015


  • Outsource work
  • A lot of tax returns are prepared in India.
  • Radiology reports read in different countries.
  • Even third world countries have IPhones.
  • Technology
  • Global capacity
  • Not be a commodity-commoditization
  • People skill set
  • Funding
  • Marketing


  • Provide Value and Expand Boundaries
  • Grow, have affiliates, advisor, resource, and to guide businesses
  • Hire the “Best Athlete”
  • People that can learn and deal with people
  • Upgrade IT
  • Recruiting never stops
  • Have the right people and service for a differentiation.
  • Alliances-Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Training and Development

Take A Ways:

  • Global reach –focus on market
  • Resources
  • Things are not going to happen organically, be intentional.
  • Keep athletes passionate about who they are playing for.
  • Not being a commodity business.
  • Evolution creates new opportunities
  • Service Excellence

Kalamazoo -Friday, April 10, 2015

Global Economy – what does it mean to us?

  • Increasing costs across the globe
  • Not cost effective to ship across the globe
  • Seeing more on-shoring
  • Some exporting is going on as well to China from the U.S.
  • Hiring staff in other countries and challenged to maintain the same/similar culture
  • Western Michigan is very global with many students


  • The world wide web has permanently changed things
  • Competitors can compete more easily – ie. The banking industry
  • Now purchasing agents can change the way we do business
  • We tend to think our way is the right way
  • Dealing with educated buyers
  • There’s lots of info out there
  • Other global/foreign businesses could cloud the waters with wrong info
  • Need to emphasize building trusting relationships
  • Understand who you’re working with and talking to
  • Need to be aware of the culture and values of the other countries
  • Can’t think that it (globalization) doesn’t apply to us
  • Ie. MSDS – now written on a world-wide level so anyone can recognize the standards

How do we train leaders to compete in the global economy?

  • Establish a training plan for all employees
  • Training language barriers/other languages
  • Understand cultures we may be dealing with
  • Ie. Mexican vs. Spanish – how do they do business?  What are their processes?
  • Diversity training
  • What characteristics/experiences do our current employees have that open their perspectives/bring others to the company
  • Examine diversity – people are fascinated to get to know others
  • Welcome foreigners to our land – biblical principle

What will happen 3-5 years out?

  • Swells in technology trends
  • Diversity training
  • More global competition
  • More online evaluation/research/RFP/RFQ
  • We may need people specifically from the culture/background that we’re doing business with to help train/understand that specific culture
  • Focus on learning more from others
  • Tailor your business/marketing to other cultures
  • Change your website to have it in different languages
  • Prepare our employees to think in a broader scope
  • Focus on team decision making – team approach
  • Get wisdom from global environment
  • People don’t have the work ethic – experiences can define that
  • Ie. Corn De-tasseling for children
  • Think about the bigger picture
  • U.S. Dollar will loose it’s standard
  • Federal reserve is broke – watch how that will affect
  • Shemittah – stock market uncertainty
  • There are a lot of ways our regional business is affected by the global economy
  • Look for more information on what’s happening out there and stay educated
  • Have a better understanding on how our businesses can be affected
  • Understand how different cultures learn


  • Globalization is here and we need to deal with it/embrace it – not fight it
  • Multiple levels are involved from employees to clients
  • Team building – learn, adapt, and trust; don’t shy away from it – participate
  • Educate kids to be more prepared to work with different cultures to bring more exposure

 Kalamazoo -Tuesday, April 14, 2015


  • Development Training
  • Marketing
  • Not overselling
  • Not only dealing with price, but quality.
  • Competition
  • Technology, Robots


  • Development Training has to become more important.
  • Right people
  • Brain power
  • Investing, relationships
  • Promote culture
  • Integrity foundational
  • Marketing Process
  • Look for right match/fit – right partners
  • Ask the right questions, “How can we help?”
  • Relationship with the customer
  • Competition
  • Convey: longevity, integrity, consistency, quality
  • Technology
  • Brain power – people
  • Quality Standards
  • Product standards – good value
  • Relationships with companies
  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Win-Win Intention
  • Align with their goals
  • Service
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Pride in our products
  • The first Walmart in China was a real disappointment to the Chinese people.  They were expecting American quality and found that a lot of what was in the store was from other countries with lower quality. America pride is good quality.
  • Book Suggestion:  “In His Steps”
  • This book addresses:
  •  What will it cost to have integrity?  Long term benefits for standing and keeping focused.

Take A Ways

  • Stay ahead of Technology
  • Reputation now, based on quality and service.  Employees pick this up too.
  • Training and Development of Leadership and People – Character development, having an info-structure, process very well defined.
  • Drive quality
  • Integrity of the Company – which will be sparked by the integrity of the leadership.
  • Create a Culture people are more important than things.
  • Go back to fundamental principles.  The Pride and quality of America.
  • Win- Win Intentions –have no fear

 Holland -Thursday, April 9, 2015


  •  Technology changes
  • Environmental challenges
  • Lack of an opportunity to grow
  • Knockoff products
  • Cost pressure / competitiveness
  • Implementing technology changes
  • International culture
  • Other countries are negative to outside influence
  • Good suppliers
  • Leadership Training


  •  Mentoring
  • Providing the right environment
  • Education and training
  • Hire young
  • Scorecard suppliers
  • Servant style
  • Balanced scorecard
  • Transferring knowledge from older workers to younger workers
  • Help current suppliers get up to speed
  • Relationship based
  • Look at whole person
  • Stay ahead of competition
  • Go inside country / use nationals
  • Work with faith based communities


  •  Working within the culture
  • Mentoring / on-going education
  • Develop a leadership track

Grand Rapids -Tuesday, April 14, 2015


  •  No borders / worldwide
  • Keeping up with technology
  • Cannot plan based on the past
  • How to play / engage in this arena
  • Lack of human capital
  • Level of sophistication
  • Government involvement
  • Poor educational infrastructure – today’s worker not ready for the global economy
  • Restrictions on imports
  • Insufficient background / education
  • Trying to predict
  • How to imagine…..quick enough
  • Communication
  • Logistics
  • Changing product sets
  • Competition
  • Changing demographics / language


  •  If you can imagine it… it
  • Adaptation to the changes
  • Identifying the needs of the customers
  • Learn / re-education
  • Grow – do not tread water
  • Create a diversity officer
  • Hire to bridge diversity within company
  • Market to the customer
  • Build cross cultural teams
  • Create international partnerships
  • Step outside comfort zone
  • Hire with diverse set of experience / including generational diversity


  •  Learn to adapt and grow
  • Diversity officer
  • Flexibility
  • Open and willingness to change / including technology

Grand Rapids -Thursday, April 9, 2015

Key Challenges

  • This is no time to be myopically focused on just our local markets! Everything is connected globally now, and will be even more so in the next 5 years.
  • Distractions are increasing.  The volume of information overload is growing. Discerning between what is important and what is not important is requiring more and more energy to figure out.
  • The gap between what higher education teaches, and what our incoming work force really needs to know, seems to be widening.
  • Employer loyalty is not a high value attribute in today’s younger work force, yet retaining our top talent is becoming more and more essential.
  • Globally, economic factors like inflation, interest rates, stock markets, unemployment, war, etc.  are unpredictable, creating an unstable global environment, and increasing risk factors for us locally.  (What happens in Europe DOES NOT stay in Europe)
  • Analysis paralysis is creeping in, “I just can’t figure out how I’m going to have enough $ to take the risk.”
  • Investing in better cyber security is expensive, essential and rapidly changing.  Not addressing this need will be devastating.

Key Solutions

  • Make our mission clear; communicate it frequently, live it daily.
  • Get a good handle on our long term debt, now.
  • Connect our business, our people, our mission and our impact with our local communities.  Invest in our local communities. Doing so creates a work environment that works. (tee hee, sorry, I couldn’t help myself on that one…)
  • Private industry must continue to thrive and lead in creating innovation, particularly in the area of customizing locally services and programs across broad ranges of social, cultural and demographic needs.  Think the opposite of one size fits all, aka government programs.
  • Make our organizations more like a family.  But, don’t just instill family values; model the principle that being a family IS the value.

Key Takeaways

  • Listen: to one another, and to God. Create deeper partnerships, invest in more profound collaborations. Synergy must be increased.
  • Be open to change, more so in the future than in the past.
  • Be visionary, more so in the future than in the past.
  • Be servant leaders, more so in the future than in the past.
  • Strategically export our mission; do so in a nurturing way.
  • Seek God’s will and guidance in prayer, especially when things are going well. (As opposed to more frequently seeking God’s help when we think things are not going well.)