How Important is Global Acumen?


For many years, the development of cultural intelligence primarily focused on people in an organization’s home country who needed to better understand the few countries in which their company operated. But today, when it is common for an organization to conduct up to 80 percent of its business outside the country that houses the central office, there are many more people whose jobs require cultural intelligence, known in other terms as global acumen. Simply stated, global acumen is understanding and appreciating the unique characteristics of various cultures around the world and what it takes to live and do business successfully in those cultures.

Possessing global acumen does not mean an individual has an in-depth understanding of the world’s cultures; rather, it implies practical business skills built on an understanding of the principle ways people and organizations of different cultures differ and how to work with them.

Organizations that do the best job of developing global acumen are those willing to make bold assignments (e.g., take risks in stretch assignments), and are very adaptive and creative in locating and taking advantage of opportunities for development.

As more and more business interactions take place between people from different backgrounds and orientations, competence in understanding ourselves and others is a business necessity.

Ken Belanger