Raytheon has matured into a defense industry giant in the years since 1922, when two former college roommates and a scientist launched the enterprise in Cambridge, Mass. The company generated more than $23 billion in sales in 2008, employed about 73,000 people and climbed four spots to No. 108 on the Fortune 500 list.
But Chief Learning Officer Diane Holman and other Raytheon executives call the company “87 years young.” Despite more than 55 years in the global arena and offices in 19 countries, Raytheon sees itself on the edge of a new era in international growth.
“We are at a starting point,” Holman says. “We have a long way to go.”
Daniel Graf, Raytheon learning lead for Business Development and International, says corporate learning must be at the forefront of this growth. “It cannot be an afterthought,” he says. “Exploding into a market without prepared talent is a recipe for disaster.”
Holman and Graf shared the podium April 28 with Thunderbird Professor Mansour Javidan, Ph.D., at the Human Resource Planning Society global conference in Tucson, Ariz. The partners talked about a new tool that already has helped leaders from Raytheon and more than 200 other organizations assess their readiness to enter the global arena.
The Global Mindset Inventory, a breakthrough self-assessment developed at Thunderbird after more than 15 years of research, includes 91 questions and takes about eight minutes to finish. Graf says the time spent completing the online questionnaire can go a long way toward reducing the risk of failure in foreign markets.
“We want to avoid sending somebody overseas who might not have the global mindset, then having to retract them back to the U.S.,” he says. “This tool allows us to get that baseline. This helps us create the action plans from which we can help develop our leaders.”
Even leaders who stay in their home markets need this development assistance.
“Putting someone in a global environment doesn’t just mean expatriates,” Javidan says. “If you’re sitting in your headquarters in the United States, but you’re working with your supply chain partners in China and your colleagues in India, you are in a global environment.”
He says virtual global environments can be even more complex than the real thing.
“It’s like having green space in Arizona,” he says. “Nothing about it is natural. It adds an extra layer of complexity because it’s virtual.”
The journey that led to the Global Mindset Inventory started in the early 1990s with a multiyear, multiphase research project called GLOBE, which stands for Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness. Javidan and other researchers set out to understand the cultures of the world and quickly realized that not everybody has the same capacity to succeed in the international arena.
Javidan says the questions that came to his mind were: “What is special about those global leaders who are successful, and what are the attributes of those global leaders who are major failures?”
When Javidan came to Thunderbird in 2004, he decided to pursue answers to these questions. So he assembled a team of Thunderbird researchers and went to work.
“The starting point of our global mindset research was the ambitions that companies have for global success,” he told the Tucson audience. “You all work for companies that have global ambitions. You want to grow in global markets, build global talent pools and develop global supply chains. You need global leaders to do that.”
Javidan says Thunderbird’s research shows that successful global leaders are good at decoding what’s going on around them in cross-cultural environments and choosing the right behavior under the right set of circumstances.
“It’s global mindset that enables you to do these things better than others,” Javidan says.
Some business leaders come with this mindset already developed. But many don’t.
The good news for human resource managers is that most elements of global mindset can be learned. Evidence for this comes from Thunderbird students, who take the Global Mindset Inventory when they arrive on campus and then a second time before graduation.
Overall, students show significant progress on the post assessment.
Raytheon also has seen benefits from an assortment of leadership development programs focused on global mindset and other priorities.
Holman says the key is a holistic approach to corporate learning that starts with classroom assessments such as the Global Mindset Inventory and carries over to real-world practice. “We look at leadership from end to end,” she says, “from early career to the senior leadership team.”
Thunderbird has participated with Raytheon in this process since 2003. The partners added the Global Mindset Inventory to the curriculum in spring 2008, when Javidan met with Holman and other Raytheon human resource professionals at the company’s first International Human Resource Forum in London.
“It was a real eye-opener for us to really start talking about the human resource implications to going global,” Holman says.
Javidan has worked since then with many of Raytheon’s top officials at the Executive Leadership Summit, a program delivered once a year for select senior executives.
“We’ve immersed our senior leadership team in this,” Holman says. “They come to the program having completed their assessment.”
Holman says the executives then spend time with Javidan discussing the Global Mindset Inventory and how they can apply intervention strategies to their work environment. They spend the next six months carrying out their action plans.
Meanwhile, other Raytheon managers participate with Thunderbird in a range of programs coordinated by Thunderbird Corporate Learning associate director Kara Patena ’09, who manages the Raytheon relationship. These programs include the “Doing Business In” series, which targets key regions for Raytheon such as India, the Middle East and Japan, senior executive briefings, and negotiation programs targeted to a specific region or country.
“Threaded through all of these programs are the assessments and the work around global mindset,” Graf says. “This sets a foundation for individuals to develop more than technical expertise.”
War on talent
Companies such as Raytheon have an urgent need for individuals prepared to lead global growth.
“There is a war on talent,” Holman says. “Especially in the defense industry, where about half of all leaders are eligible for retirement.”
Raytheon leaders today must be prepared to handle a range of global complexities unknown in past generations. The company, which specializes in defense, homeland security and other government markets, has grown through multiple acquisitions in the past 15 years.
“Cultural change comes naturally with growth through acquisition,” Graf says. “But you add another layer of complexity when you grow internationally.”
Much of this growth for Raytheon has come in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, where the company has about 7,000 employees working at established businesses. These markets have similarities to the U.S. market, but Graf says the operational and cultural differences should not be underestimated.
This is especially true in the defense industry, where companies such as Raytheon must guard U.S. interests when they work overseas.
“A lot of folks don’t realize, but we build and export products developed specifically for the U.S. government,” Graf says. “That really ties our hands, a lot of times, in how we grow internationally because we have to comply with U.S. laws, policies and procedures.”
The company also must honor U.S. boycotts, which prevents the sale of Raytheon products in countries such as China. “Many of the markets that exist, we cannot touch,” Graf says.
But opportunities for global expansion still abound.
“Raytheon is at that point where our growth strategy is tied explicitly to our international capabilities,” Graf says. “Leadership development will drive this growth, and assessment through tools such as the Global Mindset Inventory will be critical to our strategy.”
The ability of leaders to influence individuals, groups, organizations and systems that are unlike their own. Components of global mindset include: psychological, intellectual and social capital.
Psychological capital: Passion for diversity, quest for adventure and self-assurance.
Intellectual capital: Global business savvy, cosmopolitan outlook and cognitive complexity.
Social capital: Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact and diplomacy.
Is a global mindset in your DNA?
Thunderbird has created psychometric tool that is changing how global businesses compete. Learn more about the Global Mindset Leadership Institute or contact the project leader, Thunderbird Dean of Research Mansour Javidan, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org.