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Working abroad - applying organisational culture to new environments

Author: Oliver Jobson

In 2011 as part of a project with Unipart Expert Practices, I spent 3 months working as a practitioner in India. Centred in Bangalore, myself and 3 others spent time working on a number of sites around the city. Being relatively new to practitioning at the time, and having never visited India before, it was certainly an enjoyable as well as eye opening project.

The first thing you notice about India is the tangible energy; a deep culture of respect continues to remain strong despite increasing westernisation.

Unipart has always been an organisation that likes to empower its people, we are deeply invested in developing the best approach, committing time and resources to getting it right. It is part of the reason why we have such engaged people in our internal sites and it is the approach that we always take when working with our clients.

Whilst working in India, it became apparent that this approach and way of working was not familiar to most of the teams; we are used to encountering issues such as a lack of two way communication within client teams, but with the groups in Bangalore the opportunity to have responsibility and ownership of problems (an idea the client was hugely supportive of) was a real revelation for them.

Immediately apparent was the obvious complement of a deeply ingrained culture of respect with our approach here in Unipart; and as a result was immediately adopted by a number of capable individuals on the ground.

You couldn't escape the hunger for learning, knowledge and understanding in the people, indeed lunchtimes became open question sessions where people I had never met or spoken to before would come and ask me questions about Lean.
Interestingly they would then go back, think it through and come back the next day with an even tougher question...they would really stretch you!

Seeing the power of implementing the approach we have here at Unipart in to such a different environment and the effect that empowering the people on the ground the problems and the solutions themselves was amazing; it was a truly transformational process for the site.

Our experience is showing that this isn't an isolated case either; I have met teams who work on Unipart Aftermarket Logistics sites in Moscow, Atlanta and several sites across China and the message that comes back is always clear and consistent. Teams and individuals across these sites are picking up new ways of working and are really flying with it. As a result these sites are now continuously improving their processes and sharing the development of best practice throughout their global network benefitting all the sites.

The Unipart Way: performance improvement that sustains

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