In Gregg Wassmansdorf words “Geography is the study of the patterns and processes of human (built) and environmental (natural) landscapes, where landscapes comprise real (objective) and perceived (subjective) space.” Every multi-national company manages several centres across the world. These centres are developed to meet the business requirements. Different sectors across the world can be segmented on the view of their establishments.
A finance capital of a country will have most of the sales offices located there. Industrial hubs are a result of the governmental initiatives to support industry for the Greenfield projects. MIDC, STPI and other industrial estates are examples of this. Excelling through these opportunities has supported the business model to many. Mac Donalds is a principal player, to the multi-location strategy. They established profit centres pushing every barrier away. Lets take a look at how these geographical offices work.
Infrastructure and Location edge
As discussed earlier the location is often a result of rudiments. The main office is designed in a definite pattern to meet the requirements. This infrastructural pattern may not be followed in every other branch office, yet there is a similarity maintained to set a decorum. The colour chosen for the office room, the interior design and the props with logos are intentionally kept similar to bring in the same feeling for the entire organization as one irrespective of the distance. Though there would be several reasons differentiating each centre. Such as, a manufacturing unit or a plant will look very different to a sales office. The safety and legal standards will call for a different architecture. Such as a slag bank in a steel plant can’t be designed near the colonies built for staff quarters. Whereas an office in an industrial park will have to follow the security standards, such as putting up the name of the company with layout shown clearly on banners and placards within the campus. When the centres are located in different countries, the differences are even more conspicuous. Companies span over different geographies. This allows them to leverage on the best of talent and remain globally competitive. Yahoo.Inc’s offices are based in every talent efficient region from Beijing and Sunnyvale. Nokia has its headquarteres in Finland with a manufacturing unit in different places, including a one in Sriperumbadur near Chennai and a new upcoming one at Hanoi in Vietnam.
Every organization builds its own culture. This entails the communication and the attitude within the organization. The vision of the company is accentuated through it. As the company grows beyond a local bound it builds an inclusive culture. Here they acknowledge and respect the difference yet find a shared vision. This attributes to the common goal adhesion, complements to each other‘s strength as it adds with plurality. The management remains centrally located, yet the geographical centre have an overseer of their own. This is done to align the behaviour of the employees working in that centre to the main organizational goal. The over seer is the either recruited by the head quarters or is a member of that team who is an expert of that region. A global director who may work in a different location would learn the language and culture while staying in that land. Other executives would be transferred to different locations, for an ambassadorial or a leadership-based role. This brings in a seamless transition as the leader would amalgamate into the newer cultures and know how to balance the diversity. Toyota built its world-class culture taking the best from every location they operated from.
Processes and Systems
A geographically located organizational sketch agile processes. This heightens their scalability. A holographic structure is built where every branch office, becomes a part of the whole. Initially, a centrally oriented process may be implemented. Yet, certain areas of the procedures are identified to be amended, in the view of the local requirements. Few firms may accept an entrepreneurial approach. This enhances the decision making process and paces up the work-schedules. It may develop a centrally decentralised structure. Though other firms may follow the same structure every where. This ensures that if a process is implemented, it would be an organization wide process. Such as if Sodexho is to be implemented, it would be uniformly made at every location. Any benefit would be planned keeping every diaspora in mind. Even the banking partners would remain the same. Teradata banks with CitiBank to disburse the salaries, across the world. The workforce management software may show every talent to be scheduled under a work-plan across the locations. The ERP system would include the data of every employee working across locations. This would allow every leader to access the data and take an organizational wide decision. Let us walk through, to understand the process implemented through geographical locations. Lets take an example of an organization that needs to implement a new ERP system and replace the old one. Due diligence would chart the process for data integration and transition. A task force team would be identified. This task force need not be placed from one location, but the subject matter experts for that ERP, across various locations. Other than this there would be work groups allocated to work through the data integration. Here, the talent capability required to implement the new technology, would be levelled through the training programs. The training would be arranged from the head quarter, both through video conferencing and at-the location with real-time environment. Every task that would be delivered from each location would be mapped with complete ownership of the individual to whom the task is delegated. As the teams would work through the data integration, the next level tasks included in the post integration phase would start. Finally the project would end with the support from the local teams in an alignment with the task force. Here the work was synchronized beyond the geographical barriers. Expertises were leveraged to implement.
Managing geographical locations would be best defined in Martin Kenzer’s words, “concerned with the locational or spatial variation in both physical and human phenomena at the earth’s surface”