Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Forward-Thinking Cultures

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Forward-Thinking Cultures

Mansour Javidan in his HBR article July-August 2007 Forward-Thinking Cultures recounts his research on cultural bias toward future orientation. Future orientation is "the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behavior as delaying gratification, planning and investing in the future.

The research suggests that westerners, Taiwanese, and Singaporeans have more future-oriented than the Chinese. For organizations with a focus on long-term planning, Chinese employees can be left disillusioned by the process and disempowered by their ability to impact such long-term outcomes.

As Javidan suggests, the key is to translate any longer range objectives into short-term goals. Equally important is to link rewards and career growth to these short-term goals. Continuously communicating the linkage between the short-term goals and longer range objectives, and gradually increasing time horizons will help your team feel as though they have can impact the organization's outcomes.

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