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Top Tips for Managing International Projects

There is no universal way to manage a project from country to country. Each country has different rules, regulations, labor issues, and most importantly, cultural differences.

  1. Before jumping into am international project, take the time to understand the major cultural differences in the region you wish to work. You don’t have to like it, just understand what is different.
  1. Find a local partner you can trust and create a relationship. This is not done over the Internet or by phone. If the project is really important, take the time to meet face-to-face to select a partner. Don’t go it alone to organize your project and assume that all understand what you really want and need.
  1. Create a timeline with who, what, when and how much for each of the tasks or phases to complete the project. There should not be any open completion dates. Allow your partners to have input before completing the timeline.
  1. Although English is considered the language of business, not all English words mean the same. It’s not what you say, but what you mean that matters.

Depending on the industry you are working in, develop a glossary of the most often used words (in English) in the specific industry. Provide your translation for the words then ask your partner to advise with the words they would use to describe the same in their own language. This keeps you from wasting time clarifying communication when moving forward to launch a joint project.

Other than my own book, “Trade Shows from One Country to the Next,” a good book to read is “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer. It deals with communication between international teams of people working for the same company in different parts of the world. All are speaking English, but their cultural styles for engagement and communication can cause major misunderstanding.

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