Standardization or adaption? Have you ever answered this question from a personal perspective?
The main challenge a business may face in internationalization is the degree of standardization or adaptation regarding its operations. Going global implies a clear and definite strategy that will fit both the organization and the local culture. The purpose is to attain both business profitability and customer satisfaction.
What about handling this question at the personal level? Which strategy are you lined up with? The key is to be aware of it before answering this question.
Let me first explain the differences between these two concepts from a strategic marketing point of view. Supporters of standardization adopt this strategy for the global market to provide the same quality of product, achieve consistency, and lower costs. It is an excellent way to monitor communication, but it can create negative reaction from neglecting local needs. On the contrary, the international adaptation approach, like the case of McDonald’s, emphasizes on customizing the product depending on different factors such as the culture, language, race, taste, different laws.
You may be wondering what these two concepts have to do with our own personal life journey and strategies. How many of you are embracing the standardization approach to fit easily in your own personal or professional environment? Are you in “everything is done this way” to ensure a comfortable, less risky life denying your own values, thoughts and attitude? Are you setting them apart for social or organizational recognition? People applying this approach may benefit from a global brand image, an easy way to fit everywhere to facilitate their social integration, but may lack a unique personal identity, inner values and high self-esteem.
“Values aren’t buses… They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are.” – Jennifer Crusie
What about people considering adaptation of standards, thoughts, and style of management depending on the audience. People in this case are continuously challenged to revamp their attitude, language, style of work, and ethical codes to adapt to all situations searching for acceptance and success. Some people will call it hypocrisy; others may look at it as diplomacy… Where are you within these two approaches?
Are you in between or brave enough to DARE your own brand identity however the environment and the culture? Are you a person of SUCCESS or a person of VALUE?
My goal is far behind setting a judgment on one of these approaches as we may all be forced one day to adopt one of them for lack of alternatives and solutions. Suppose you take an exam in a thunderstorm and another person in a silent proof room. Once we get the test scores, are we allowed to say who was better in the exam? As long as we don’t live the same conditions, and the same challenges, we cannot afford to put judgment on the manner each one of us may handle his life journey.
“Every decision in your life is controlled by your beliefs and values. You may not realize it, but you have the power to choose what you believe about your life, people, money and health… The key is to be aware of them because what you value determines what you focus on.” - Tony Robbins
Standardization may appear to be the easiest and “less risky” strategy to embrace as it does not involve much creativity except denying your inner thoughts, values and cultural attributes. For example, Geert Hofstede, a social psychologist, defined and analyzed for many years six cultural dimensions that categorize each culture, but these dimensions are now in a process of becoming obsolete, because of the SHIFT of our attitudes and beliefs.
“Modernity: we created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
It’s true that adaptation requires more effort and adjustment from the person. It can also be perceived as an easy going mode to adopt, but it may create confusion and double identity. Many people find it inevitable in some cases because after all the purpose is to adapt to the environment without ignoring the core principles.
The most challenging approach to me, is neither standardization not adaptation, but to live a life in total alignment with your own values, beliefs, style of work, attitude, and to be able to express your inner thoughts without doubt, and fear however the circumstances. People like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela did not only live a life in accordance with their ethical values, but they were a symbol of global peacemaking. They even devoted their whole life to defend the values they cherished regarding peace and human rights. Despite the rejection and the social exposure they were faced with, the reward was at all levels: personal, social, political, and professional.
We don’t need to be like Martin Luther King or others to live with dignity, respect to our set of values and thoughts, but we simply need to be who we really are. The key is to be aware of our own beliefs and goals, and strongly believe and work on them.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi