The Borderless Challenge

Change has been driven by two powerful and interdependent forces in the business environment:

  • Digital technologies 
  • Multi-polar globalization

Digital Technologies

New information can impact the rest of the globe at the speed of the Internet, and information is being created 24/7. As Eric Schmidt of Google said, “There is more content being created in 48 hours today than was created from the beginning of time ‘til 2003!” 

The digital age is not simply about the transfer of information in its many forms. As Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics says, “This is not an information age. It’s an age of networked intelligence.” This is an age in which we have access to the intelligence of not just a few, but multitudes; an age that makes mass collaboration possible. Such collaboration radically alters our capabilities to innovate, influence, and get things done.

Multi-polar globalization

Gone are the days when globalization was simply multinationals from advanced economies spreading their power and influence across borders. Companies from emerging markets are wielding much more power. Think of:

  • Lenovo (China) – now the world’s largest maker of PCs
  • Tata (India) – a conglomerate with a market capitalization of $90 billion that earns 58 percent of its revenues outside of India. The Reputation Institute ranked Tata as the 11th most reputable company in the world.

While Lenovo and Tata are becoming well-known names, there are many other emerging market companies becoming ‘global challengers’. The Boston Consulting Group issued a study on 100 fast growing and fast globalizing companies from emerging markets [1]. The companies included Alibaba (the largest e-commerce company in China), Trina Solar (the world’s 4th largest solar panel manufacturer), Naspers (a South African media giant). While China and India dominated the list, there were also companies from Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Chile. While the digital revolution and globalization have been with us for some time, how are businesses doing in their response? According to research conducted by Accenture and the Economist Intelligence Unit: Strikingly, only 11 percent of business leaders surveyed believe that their companies are significantly advanced in their strategic response to the disruptive business environment brought about by the intersection of the multi-polar world and developments in IT. “

The Borderless Challenge: Realities

These are some of the specific business realities triggered by the powerful environmental forces.

  • Competition: Multi-polar globalization means competition is coming from here, there, and everywhere. This means there is a continuous need to be proactive, responsive, and agile. We experience rapid changes in the marketplace requiring continuous adaptation in strategy, decision-making, and action. It is increasingly more difficult to plan for change often leaving us feeling disoriented, overwhelmed and unprepared.
  • Complexity: Diverse – yet often interconnected and conflicting – business models, management systems, legal and regulatory systems, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, geographies, employees, and socio-political systems make up a complex business environment. Often, complex problems cannot be managed with existing knowledge and know-how; they require collaborative solutions and innovation.
  • Connectivity: Information technologies have long been used to create efficiencies and productivity. Advanced virtual communication and collaboration technologies are going further by enabling business transformations. The ‘connected’, ‘networked’, ‘matrixed’, ‘latticed’, and ‘borderless’ enterprise are names for organizational forms enabled by the digital revolution.
  • Cultures: Being more digitally connected doesn’t mean we are more culturally or psychologically connected. In a world of virtual and face-to-face interactions across borders we often experience difficulty in understanding what is happening or in identifying what is significant. There is an increased chance for misreading situations because the reality might be interpreted in more than one way.


The Borderless Challenge: Developing Capabilities

To suceed in the Borderless Workplace there are specific capabilities required, on an organizational and personnel level:

Organizational capabilities stand out as being of highest priority at this time:

  • Agile: The ability of an organization to change rapidly in response to changes in the environment, e.g. the emergence of new competitors, disruptive technologies, and sudden changes in market conditions. Based on research by both McKinsey and The Economist Intelligence Unit, 90 percent of executives rank organizational agility as critical to business success [3]. Research at MIT shows that agile firms grow revenue 37 percent faster and generate 30 percent higher profits than non-agile companies. [4] 
  • Innovative: The willingness and ability of networks of people and teams to innovate their way through complex problems, by working together across internal and external boundaries. The story of Procter & Gamble (P&G) is telling [5]. In early 2000, the company’s share price had fallen nearly 50 percent, resulting in the loss of $85 billion in market capitalization. Despite huge spending on R&D, only 35 percent of new products reached their financial objectives. The new CEO, A.G. Lafley, was confident that collaboration was the key to the company’s future value. He wanted to make P&G the company that “collaborates inside and out, better than any company in the world.” A study showed that P&G’s most profitable innovations came from internal collaborations across business units or from external collaboration with researchers on the outside. Twenty cross-functional ‘communities of practice’ were established within P&G, and Lafley determined that 50 percent of P&G’s products, ideas and technologies would be developed externally. By 2008, P&G had improved its R&D productivity by 60 percent, and more than doubled its innovation success rate. Technologies facilitate collaborative innovation, but they are by no means sufficient. As Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat said, “. . . collaboration is a culture, not a set of tools.”
  • Tech Smart: The traditional view has always associated information technology with efficiency and productivity. That is certainly a valid perspective. Work networks (based on social media technologies) will become a common feature in organizations seeking greater agility, and according to McKinsey, “…by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers – high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals – by 20 to 25 percent.” That includes: 25-30% productivity improvement in reading and answering e-mail 30-35% productivity improvement in search and gathering information 25-35% productivity improvement in communicating and collaborating internally [6] Productivity is only part of the story. According to IBM: “The view that technology is primarily a driver of efficiency is outdated; CEOs now see technology as an enabler of collaboration and relationships – those essential connections that fuel creativity and innovation.” [7]
  • Adaptable: The ability of people in an organization to handle the uncertainties and ambiguities that are inevitable when vertical, horizontal, regional, national, professional, functional, and linguistic boundaries are crossed. Research by the Economist Intelligence Unit points to cultural and language differences as being particularly challenging: “The single most common challenge, selected by 56% of executives polled, relates to the misunderstandings that emerge as a result of cultural and language differences from teams operating globally.”

The Borderless Challenge: People Capabilities

Based on these critical organizational capabilities, four specific capabilities emerge for people development – The Critical4 

  • Borderless Collaboration: People with the mindsets and skills to work together across borders to innovate and create value.
  • Matrix Working: People with the thinking and behavioral agility to produce high levels of performance in complex environments.
  • Cultural Intelligence: People with the adaptability to bridge and leverage differences between individuals and groups.
  • Digital Fluency: People with the ability to make the most effective use of new communications and collaboration technologies. 

The Borderless Challenge: Summary

Organizations that can acquire these capabilities stand to benefit in a number of ways:

  • Faster responsiveness in pursuing growth opportunities and managing risks
  • Increased organizational cohesion and integration
  • Deeper and more value-added collaborations with customers and other stakeholders
  • Faster and better quality decision making through increased sharing of knowledge, skills, and experience
  • Faster workplace learning and application of best practices
  • More efficient and effective face-to-face and virtual project collaborations across the organization
  • Increased innovation through the cross-pollination of diverse perspectives and styles
  • Increased productivity through more seamless cross-border communication

This is a preview of our e-book ‘The Borderless Workplace’. Contact us for more information on how we can support your organization with developing a truly inclusive workforce. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our article. Why not sign up to receive our newsletter direct to your inbox? Click here to subscribe. We regularly share articles from industry leaders on how to perform in the global workplace as well as the latest news and trends affecting the L&D industry. 

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

Adapting to your environment is a matter of business survival – kill or be killed.

The ability to work well with other cultures is now accepted as a key requirement for managers within all but the most domestic, inward-facing organisations.

Why has it come to be valued so highly?

  • Global teams win more tenders – they have more to offer.
  • International leaders can give a compelling and universal vision for all to work towards – this puts significant savings from economies of scale within reach and minimises destructive internal backbiting.
  • Teams made up of executives from different countries are those who make an international strategy really happen – but only if they work well together.
  • New markets can be tapped – by those who understand them well. Those who do not are sure to fail.
  • Creative and innovative products and solutions come from harnessing diversity.
  • Employers can take advantage of lower wage costs – but only if they understand how cultural non-cash motivators work too.

If your organisation has executives who travel frequently, negotiate with foreigners or work on multinational teams they need training to be effective.

TMA World is a specialist in this field. It is the only international development consultancy in Europe to produce its own leading edge software, content and training videos. In this article we will provide examples of how TMA World has helped clients to win in the global marketplace.

The world is getting smaller. Accelerating developments in communication and transport technologies are driving radical changes in the way organisations need to think and act in the business environment. The ability to understand foreign markets and manage international relationships is now, according to a recent study, a ‘basic requirement for the leaders of Europe’s largest corporations’. Yet, many are woefully inadequate with disastrous consequences. As leaders, their vision is chronically misinterpreted. They fail to understand that the things which most often motivate, inspire and generate commitment depend on each individuals’ cultural background. Their strategy is not accepted. Progress is blocked. 

‘Think global, act local’ is easier said than done. TMA World can help your senior managers turn the rhetoric into a workable strategy which will bring global scale efficiencies within reach and help successfully to adapt marketing and sales techniques.

Global View at Zeneca Pharmaceuticals

“Working together effectively across national boundaries is extremely important to us as a global pharmaceuticals company …we have found that TMA’s programmes have proved very helpful to the frequent as well as in-frequent business traveller”

Dr. David Plowright, International Personnel and Training Executive

Competitive advantage through diversity

No matter how convincing the universal corporate vision, this vision needs people who will make it happen. This means developing multinational teams that work together effectively, for example, to win a tender or complete a project. As managers and employees start to interact, manage and negotiate with customers and colleagues from different cultures, so they must learn actively to manage cultural differences to their advantage. Global teams must establish a common working culture which services  the needs of the group but which also recognises, respects and integrates individual cultural differences.

If this can be achieved these groups generate an exciting, creative energy. The results are those ‘breakthroughs’ and ‘discoveries’ which enable organisations to surge ahead and establish a really significant edge over competitors.

Shortening product development timescales at Glaxo Wellcome

“If we are to develop and market medicines that are acceptable to authorities globally, we need to have an in-depth knowledge of local issues. Our international project teams have provided us with this strength and enable us to shorten product development timescales significantly… these teams cannot reach their full incredible potential without actively managing their cultural diversity. TMA programmes havebeen invaluable in providing them with a common language and framework”

Karen Ward Worldwide  Organisation, Development Manager

Developing global minds conquering new markets

Companies that have not recognized the need to understand new markets before blundering in have paid for their ignorance – like the US company that thought it was sufficient to go to a Latin American client with a slick presentation – after all its product was the best. Their Swedish competitors spent a week in Buenos Aires getting to know the client better – and took the business from right under their noses. Whether an organisation is concerned with marketing, or manufacturing, or any other global activity, training and development plans should compliment the international strategy. TMA World can advise clients on the right policies and procedures. And because managers vary in their exposure to international business we have produced an invaluable process, Developing Global Minds.

This provides managers with a framework by which to assess development needs and then deliver solutions that are tailored to the specific requirements and concerns of the individual and the organisation. Developing Global Minds is a unique learning process which can also be used as a needs analysis.

The four-stage cycle is based on:

  • Attitude – developing an open attitude and making managers conscious of the environment in which they work
  • Awareness – providing an understanding of culture and how it affects working relationships 
  • Knowledge – acquiring the practical information needed to operate effectively in another country
  • Skills – developing the behaviours and competencies needed to work successfully with other nationalities

TMAW World is a unique organisation. A specialist in human aspects of globalisation, we provide practical business solutions addressing the leadership, management and HR development needs of companies operating in the global marketplace. 

We offer Global Management Solutions in three product/service portfolios:

Strategic Portfolio:

  • A series of facilitated workshops and planning activities that assist senior executives in the formulation of their organisation’s global strategy.

Operational Portfolio:

  • A selection of programmes, interventions and mentoring solutions that aid executives in the implementation of their global roles and responsibilities.

Learning and Development Portfolio:

  • An integrated set of professional development workshops, simulations and tools designed to support the HR community in the development of their organisation’s global talent.

In developing and delivering these portfolios, we utilise the latest in Research, Innovation, Design and Technology.

International diversity will be the engine that drives the creative energy of the 21st century organisation. TMA World’s success is based on a commitment to developing global minds capable of leading and managing this diversity for the innovative and competitive edge of its clients.

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Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

The Impact of Digitization on Learning

Digitization is a growing trend and has made a huge impact on our business and learning offering.

TMA World has been at the forefront of the industry, delivering our virtual classroom in 2005. Today we deliver virtual classrooms all over the world, across 60 countries. We are committed to developing our digital offering to deliver the best experience for our clients and their community of learners.

As organizations transform and become more connected, complex and matrixed, they require more accessible, consistent, uniform learning, available when and where there people need it. 

Watch our short video to see how as a organization we are approaching digitization to achieve the best possible learning solutions for our clients.

For more information on how we develop learning solutions to transform complex, matrix organizations, click here to download our latest e-book – The Borderless Workplace

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

Melinda Gates wrote an article for the NY Times commending our client, Pathfinder International for their work in challenging biases. 

Pathfinder International engaged TMA World as a learning provider to deliver Unconscious Bias training to their employees to support this program. 

Here’s an overview of the article originally shared in NY Times

Melinda Gates meets with women and their children in Burkina Faso. Gates Archive

By Melinda Gates 

I am not used to thinking that a story about a person treating someone else unjustly is anything but bad news. But in my more optimistic moments, I think it’s actually a positive thing that we are hearing so much about bias these days. Every time bias makes the headlines — when two young men in a coffee shop are arrested for trespassing or a programmer in Silicon Valley is fired for a sexist memo — we have an opportunity to get better at recognizing it, naming it and, I hope, fighting it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this applies to our foundation’s work on adolescent family planning. As the largest generation in history enters its reproductive years, the evidence tells us that bias is one of the biggest barriers standing between these 1.8 billion young people and the tools and information they need to protect themselves and their futures.

When I travel with our foundation, I hear a lot of stories like Miriam’s. As a first-year university student, Miriam made the trip to a clinic near her home in Burkina Faso to ask about contraceptives. Instead of answers, she got a lecture about premarital sex and propriety. Miriam remembers exactly what the outraged provider told her: “You don’t have the right.”

Technically speaking, Miriam does. Fifty years ago, the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights affirmed that the ability to plan and space pregnancies is indeed a human right.

But as important as a public declaration from the international community may be, what happens in private conversations between patients and providers matters, too. Recent history has underscored just how much.

In the last two decades, Britain has cut its teenage pregnancy rate — once the highest in Western Europe — in half. One of the factors cited most often in this stunning reversal is the country’s successful efforts to connect its young people to high-quality, nonjudgmental counseling.

How do we make that kind of counseling available to more young people in more places? One of our foundation’s partners may have a solution.

Pathfinder International’s Beyond Bias program takes an innovative, data-driven approach to strengthening empathy and understanding between providers and their patients in Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Pakistan. Its methods include sending young adult “mystery shoppers” into clinics to see how they are received when they ask questions about contraceptives and reproductive health. The information they gather is used to design interventions that encourage providers to examine how their biases show up in their work.

When I was in Burkina Faso earlier this year, I spent a morning with a midwife named Carine who had recently participated in a Beyond Bias program. Carine told me that she became a midwife for one reason: to help as many women as possible. She also admitted that she “had prejudices” in the past about providing contraceptives to young women, especially unmarried ones.

The program, she explained, helped her see things differently. Now, when she is asked to counsel a teenager about family planning, she reminds herself, “That girl knows why she came.” Out of respect for that young woman, Carine suspends her own feelings and offers the best care that she can. “Good morning,” she tells them, “I am all yours.”

When Miriam walked into that clinic, it took courage. Carine’s choice to challenge her own biases did, too. And while today I hear a lot of stories like Miriam’s, I think that will change after we start hearing more stories like Carine’s.

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Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

Employee learning is a key element in nurturing talent and driving organizations forward. recently released their 2018 U.S. L&D Report which reveals how organizations are investing in talent, how they measure their impact, and what attitudes different levels in the organization hold about corporate learning.

Key Takeaways

1. Leadership and Management are the Highest Development Priorities

Across industries and company-sizes, developing leaders in the organization is top-of-mind for L&D professionals in 2018.

2. Large Companies Appear Hesitant to Reinvest Revenue Increases into L&D

Although they spend above the survey average on training per employee, professionals from large organizations were less likely than their SME counterparts to predict a budget increase for their department.

3. Proving the Business Impact of Training is Key

L&D professionals who track the ROI of training are more likely to have increased resources, higher satisfaction with how their department performs, and of course, executive buy-in.

4. Coaching is Correlated With Revenue Growth

External and internal coaching as the primary form of workplace learning for senior members of staff is common-practice at companies which reported increased revenue in the last financial year.

5. The Key to Engaged Staff is Executive Buy-In and Technology

A staff highly engaged in workplace learning is correlated with use of learning technologies and a close working relationship between L&D and executives.

If you enjoyed reading this article click here to sign up to our newsletter and receive all future articles direct to your inbox. 

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

Steven Pritchard, our Director of Consulting and Innovation took part in a panel to discuss the future of learning.

The event, hosted by Training Journal asked the panel the question: “Learning is changing, how do we prepare?”. The discussion covers learner habits, technology, future skills and so much more. It is a very interesting conversation and a worthwhile watch for anyone in HR and L&D.

Click here to watch the recording.

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

Avery Dennison was looking for a way to celebrate International Women’s Day and further its diversity and inclusion efforts. The company approached us with an exciting proposal to create a unique online learning experience for employees. 

With diversity a core part of its company values, Avery Dennison offers flexible work arrangements, manager training on unconscious bias, and a Women Empowered development program. These initiatives are helping to create a more inclusive workplace, and broaden the scope of focus beyond gender diversity.

In honor of International Women’s Day, Avery Dennison wanted to introduce an online learning program that would appeal to both men and women. The company’s newly refreshed set of values provided a nice foundation for the effort, including: 

  • Teamwork – We are better when we work together and put others ahead of ourselves.
  • Courage – We are brave in the face of adversity and the unknown.
  • Diversity – We gain strength from diverse ideas and teams.

These themes have been channeled into a unique learning program, called “Conscious Collaboration Across Borders”. TMA World will host a series of webinars for Avery Dennison, focused on the following:

  • Emphasizing how conscious collaboration increases our ability to engage with others respectfully and with care
  • Increasing our awareness of the mindsets and behaviors that drive conscious collaboration
  • Leveraging value from team diversity and create actions for inclusive behaviors
  • Providing a practical, simple technique for consciously collaborating

Employee insights gathered during the sessions will be used to inform the approach for their Women Empowered program, which will take place later in the year.

About Avery Dennison

Avery Dennison (NYSE: AVY) is a global materials science and manufacturing company specializing in the design and manufacture of a wide variety of labeling and functional materials. The company’s products, which are used in nearly every major industry, include pressure-sensitive materials for labels and graphic applications; tapes and other bonding solutions for industrial, medical and retail applications; tags, labels and embellishments for apparel; and radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions serving retail apparel and other markets. Headquartered in Glendale, California, the company employs approximately 30,000 employees in more than 50 countries. Reported sales in 2017 were $6.6 billion. Learn more at


TMA World help many of the world’s biggest brands realize the potential of the ‘Borderless Workplace’. Click here to view our other success stories.

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.

“Am I unconsciously biased? Yes, and its discovery can be a shocking self-revelation. I remember years ago my surprise when the IT support person who came to help me was a woman! OMG, what was I thinking? Well, I wasn’t thinking.”

Our director of learning and innovation, Terence Brake features in Training Journal this month discussing unconscious bias and how our biases can be altered.

Click here to read the article. 

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Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.


On the 19th May Terence Brake, TMA World’s Director of Learning & Innovation, spoke to students at the UN Headquarters.   The highly successful session on “Business across Cultures” was delivered to business students from DePaul University, Chicago and two universities in Mexico. The discussion was chaired by Ambassador Amhad Kamal of Pakistan who is Founder and CEO of the UN Ambassador Club and former Vice President of the General Assembly.

Download our series of thought leadership publications, authored by Terence Brake here

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.


TMA World will be presenting at iVentiv’s 8th Learning & Development, Executive Knowledge Exchange on the 21st and 22nd June.  In his presentation, Steven Pritchard, Head of Learning Enterprise Strategy, will review the critical people capabilities required in today’s workplace. 

The two day conference on Corporate Learning & Development will involve Chief Learning Officers from leading companies across a variety of sectors.

Stay in touch for further news and updates

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.


Last Thursday’s webinar was a great success!  David Smith, Global Director of Virtual Learning Solutions, spoke with Terry about his recent publication and the increasingly important role collaboration plays not only today, but in our future workplace.

If you weren’t able to join us on this occasion, you can access the recording here

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and contact us should you have any questions regarding the webinar or about our Borderless Collaboration solutions.

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.


Following the release of our much anticipated thought leadership piece – Borderless Collaboration: Creating value together in the new world of work,  we will be holding a webinar on November 19th, where author Terence Brake will discuss his latest book and look further at how collaboration plays a key role in the workplace today.

Register here to secure your place

Interested in how introducing a cultural intelligence tool in your business could help to create a more borderless workforce? We’d love to show you our groundbreaking platform.