HomeBy Kirsti Miettinen, kirsti.miettinen@aalto.fi, Petri Lyytikäinen, petri.lyytikainen@aalto.fi, Tapio Koskinen, tapio.koskinen@aalto.fi, Aalto University Professional Development Aalto PRO. Companies that need training and development services increasingly operate in more than just one country, language and culture. Succeeding in a complex, multinational, customer-tailored training project takes more than a good concept. The concept must be flexible so that changes from country to country do not endanger the content to be delivered. There can be several localised versions of the training concept under simultaneous delivery. The challenge is how to manage the concept. Download the Document.
8. Training Partner Support Meets Multicultural Business Environment

Different business cultures and variations in company size from one country to another, as well as different learning and teaching cultures make the roll-out of courses very challenging. Furthermore, the need to deliver each course in the mother tongue of the participants makes it difficult to achieve the economies of scale.
The regional training partner has to be able to establish an open and firm relationship and dialogue with the local company management. It is necessary to have both parties communicating and planning the training together in order to understand what country-specific adjustments must be made in the training content. This increases the usefulness of the training. The risk is to make the training too country-specific and thus forget the overall picture i.e. harmonising the project business.
Too strong and wilful leadership in local customer organisation can make the implementation of the concept difficult. There is a risk that the training designed is not what they (country managers) think they need most. The training was intended to support the change management of the company. The training was to soften the adaptation of new ways of doing business. Resistance to the change direction can make them doubtful not only of the new concept but also of the training.
It is of utmost importance that already before the training starts, the country managers and the local champions (local owners of the concept) are committed to the new concept and procedure. Not only should the lingual translation of the Company’s new concept be ready before training in each country, but also the localisation should be finalized (by company in-house professionals). This cannot be overemphasised because we found lack of localisation being one of our major challenges during roll-outs.
The maturity of the business practices and normal cultural aspects in doing business can bring unexpected challenges to the delivery of the project. Issues that are easy to implement in one country can become difficult obstacles in another country. This requires a lot of time and energy from the regional partner and project management, if the difficulties had not been anticipated in time. A good understanding of the local business culture and open-mindedness to face unexpected challenges rising from e.g. resistance or misunderstanding of concepts are of great help when overcoming unexpected challenges. Continuous support for the regional partner from the central project management is a necessity. The best, and perhaps the only way, to ensure the quality of the training adaptation to the local level is to work only with subcontractors (local universities and training organisers) with whom you have had a long experience in collaboration. A long collaboration in training partnership with the customer makes it possible to acquire adequate and honest feedback for the training delivery abroad. Project management and the steering group are able to re-engineer a process control system on the run.
In our case, the major project management challenge came from the demanding roll-out schedule. When managing training carried out in 15 countries during 24 months and based on a concept designed and tested during a pilot phase in a couple of countries and re-engineered in every new country, you need to be active in keeping each partner updated on new amendments to the concept and content. It is also essential that your partners are flexible and ready to change their preliminary plans for delivery when the next generation concept is released. Download the Document.