On Being International

02 Apr 2004|Darrel Rhea

I have teaching innovation processes and research for quite a while now. This week I have been in Barcelona, Spain, working with 25 executives from around the world. There is nothing like public speaking to an international audience to make me aware of how many figures of speech and how much slang I use to explain myself. Participants included people who flew in from Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, US, China, UK, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Spain…and other countries! You can’t take anything for granted with an audience like this.

Next time I go abroad, I am going to review my slides for slang. It is a good idea for my domestic talks too. Using slang gives me a casual style that is fun and personal, but I now realize how inappropriate and insensitive it is for those who don’t get the joke. Sometimes it is hard for me to recognize my own use of slang words. (Sharing materials with any non-native speaker can usually reveal then quickly, so I’ll just have to remember to schedule time to have one of my many international Cheskin colleagues review them.)

It is always impressive to hear about great design research going on around the world. Many participants shared research programs that demonstrated how the state of the art is advancing rapidly and spreading around the world. Electrolux was especially impressive with a global program that is leading their organization’s innovation efforts. Like Cheskin, they have had to develop their own systems for managing research simultaneously in several continents, and report having to invent new practices beyond the experience of regular research consultancies to get the job done. Bravo!

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Another tablet sketch, this time of Barcelona’s marina from the tram tower.

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