Global Communications: 7 Steps to Improve Them Through Adaptive Innovation

June 10, 2020

by Gonzalo A. Peña Independent Business & Communication Consultant for U.S. Translation Company, blog sponsor

If there is something the global economy has learned in 2020, it’s how easily it can change at a global scale. The new realities of COVID-19 have brought the business world to sudden and drastic changes that continue to occur. A proven approach to tackle these changes is Adaptive Innovation. 

The term Adaptive Innovation comes from Michael Kirton’s approach to identifying problem-solving and cognitive styles. Kirton suggests a “Creativity Continuum” to which we all subscribe. On one end we have “the adaptors” and on the other “innovators”. None of the ends of the spectrum have a moral value, in fact you might have elements of both in your personality. It looks a bit like this:




A resilient bunch. They can thrive when presented with a problem in a familiar environment. They accept problems as they’re presented and defined to them. They like to implement solutions to the problems according to the current present conditions, processes and structures. They have a hard time thriving in unexpected situations. It’s people that are trying to RUN & IMPROVE the established structures.


These are the independent thinkers. They hardly accept the current perception of the problem. They like to come up with their own ideas to solve them, because, after all, coming up with new ideas are a specialty to them. They have a hard time thriving in rigid structures. Innovators thrive in solving new problems and unprecedented crisis. To them, it is good to CHANGE the established structures, and change can be a goal.


Think about the way your organization communicates globally. The changes occurring in business are happening faster than ever, and the exchange of global information can make or break a brand. When dealing with different cultures across the globe, you want to be creative to tackle the communication variables.

An approach towards global communications based on Adaptive Innovation might be what your organization needs to keep up with the current changes. Here are seven simple steps to improve your Global Communications through this lens:

  1. Create and foster a culture that welcomes varied perspectives and feedback: Innovation will only thrive if the environment of an organization allows it. Similarly, an individual and collective attitude that welcomes different backgrounds, opinions, reflections, and perspectives will allow trust and communication to flow more freely. Appreciate and even celebrate the input offered by the different members of the organization.
  2. Think of your organization as a ‘Network’:  Organizations can be viewed in many ways and structures. A Network is a web of actors, nodes, clusters that can connect and exchange information among them. Learn how information in your organization flows and see the patterns of dissemination, and these patterns might not follow the structure of your organization. A network approach might help you see how your communications travel and how easily new ideas can be implemented.
  3. Identify Adaptors and Innovators in your organization: Getting to know your team well in order to foster trust and communication is not a new notion. Getting to knowing how they approach problem-solving across different backgrounds and contexts is going to require some close observation on your part.
  4. Once identified, help Adaptors and Innovators thrive: Once you know how your global team approaches problem-solving situations, you will need a person-centered approach to tackle the issues. Just like every person, every problem and challenge is different, and knowing the best expert for the job will prove crucial not only for your organization, but also for your team members.
  5. Identify the “Information Brokers” in your organization: Going back to a network approach, in a global web of actors there might be “clusters” of information formed in time across the globe due to different factors (geographic region, language, cultural similitude, etc.). Get to know the members of the team that transmit information effectively across clusters. In Burt’s Structural Holes theory these members are called “Information Brokers,” and their role is to tie in isolated groups.

    Information Brokers are crucial in maintaining cohesion of your message across global teams that otherwise would be disconnected. They can be both inside or outside your organization, and they know how to communicate in the “code” or language of both teams. Their unique awareness of language, culture and context allows them to adapt, or rather “translate” information cultural to be received effectively in either group.

    Some examples of Information Brokers are:
  • Translators (in-house or external)
  • Ex-patriates
  • Influencers
  • People in your organization whose varied backgrounds allow them to see and communicate with central or peripheral groups in your organization
  1. Establish effective testing: Sometimes the only way to know if a communication strategy is the most effective is by putting it to test against another. Focus on one variable at a time and use Adaptors and Innovators as necessary to establish the changes that need to take place. KEEP TESTING CONSTANTLY.
  2. Make sure the message is localized correctly across the different clusters of your organization: Information Brokers have the unique ability to strengthen or weaken the message or even the brand of an organization. Ensuring the information is properly localized to each market will allow Brokers to render the information across global groups effectively.

    Linguists adapting your message (internal or external), should not only understand and be native of the language and culture, but they should understand your company, brand, values, and infrastructure in order to transmit the message effectively to a global market. Remember, a translation is not simply putting phrases together in a different language. It entails transmitting ideas that are affected by context and cultures differing from each other.  Ensuring proper quality for language and meaning is key, the last thing you want is to offend or miss the mark and damage your reputation.

    In the case of local and global influencers, observe the reaction of the groups to which an influencer has transmitted your message. If their behavior differs greatly from your expectations as a leader, it might mean that the message was poorly delivered. Invest time and resources to ensure your message gets across accurately and effectively.


As a consultant, Gonzalo A. Peña has helped US Translation Company implement several projects. He’s had the privilege of working with prominent organizations like the United Nations, Standard and Poor's, and The U.S. Department of Justice. 
U.S. Translation Company is a blog sponsor and partner of the Goddard School of Business & Economics