I already felt the cultural difference the first day when I discussed personal branding in a marketing class at Chapman together with Niklas Myhr. In Sweden, people tend to obsess about why they need to leave the comfort zone “doing it like we always have done“. Over here, people know in their core that change is somehow an important ingredient and that you can’t expect the government to be looking after your brand. People know that they must be out going and develop connections through networking. This is how you establish your career. I think people in the US tend to see themselves more like “human” start ups. Notice! I said human. So I think it is a cultural difference that make people adapt faster to change here, and embrace personal branding compared to Sweden.
Sniffing Insights In Silicon Valley
These feelings were further evolving when we met Burton Lee PhD MBA at Stanford. He gave us his perspective of innovation in Silicon Valley, Europe and Scandinavia. He described the importance for countries and universities to have a strong presence in Silicon Valley. To wrap it up and make a very insightful hour short: He told us from a Scandinavian perspective that Norway and Finland are doing an increasingly good job with their presence in The Valley. Sweden is maybe not so good as we think we are. He was worried about the absence of interest the Swedish Government and universities were paying to Silicon Valley. He told us that we tend to focus too much on Washington DC. He said: “What does Washington has to do with the Swedish future of innovation”?
When I stood beside the fountain looking at the bookstore where Dr Lee left us, I asked myself: Is there an opportunity here? Is this a cultural challenge too?
Advantage Through Technology
This reflection was soon taking an interesting outcome when we had a wonderful breakfast together with Anneke Seley who is the author of Sales 2.0. We had a great chat together with her about life, cultural differences and the importance of following your intuition. Her book Sales 2.0 is about the use of innovative sales practices, focused on creating value for both buyer and seller and enabled by Web 2.0 and next-generation technology. The outcome in the end of this breakfast was that I started to realize that if you don’t accept change you soon lose momentum in relation to your competitors who are running their business with the latest technology.
How Open Are You?
All of these insights make me a bit worried! I mean, if companies are slower to adopt a holistic social media perspective in Sweden we will soon lose the momentum of innovation compared to our competition. Imagine if we performed a case study between two sales teams with two different conditions regarding technological tools. Imagine then that one sales team was not allowed to use mobile phones or email in their sales process to communicate with their customers, and the other team was allowed to use these tools. Do you think the first team will have any chance to beat the other sales team’s performance and productivity? I don’t think so! And it will not take long before that productivity is manifested into a stronger bottom line. So how open is your company to change in order to improve your overall performance in sales?
Knowing that the biggest difference is how people adapt to change is a serious problem long term. Social business innovating companies are creating a gap in relation to their industry peers because of the cultural differences (interview with Amber Naslund). I think companies who are asking for the money proof before they enter the social business arena are looking for the wrong facts. Instead you must ask yourself: Will people stop using mobile devices? Will that ever happen? Probably not! So then it’s all about adapting and the only way to handle social innovation is by doing it. You must understand that the reason why I’m so eager to explore this is because this is how business will be done tomorrow. And to quote Brian Solis: “It’s not business leaders who will figure out what they should do”. It will be innovating leaders who figure it out, are you a leader?
Does It Makes Sense?
What do you think when I share my thoughts with you here?
It’s a time to innovate, it’s time to get things off the ground!