Localization and Globalization Frameworks: The forest through the trees

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I first realized localization was a career when I began doing it. That same year I attended my first LocWorld with the help of the LocWorld organizers and committee. My employer was unwilling to pay, so I found a sponsor to pay for the LocWorld fees I could not afford. At my second LocWorld, Bill Sullivan, globalization lead from IBM and keynote speaker, gave me advice that changed my career: “Follow the money and make the gatekeepers your friends,” he said. I did and it changed my career trajectory and allowed me to build a community to scale global expansion. Now as a consultant, I believe that localization and globalization can only be understood through frameworks that contextualize their importance to the larger objectives of the company. Over time they also become a driving force for international growth.

I’ll be speaking at LocWorld41 in San Jose on November 6th and 7th, 2019. On the 6th I’ll be doing an Introduction to Localization session and a Globalization session and on the 7th I’ll be moderating a talk on globalization and corporate governance with Kristin Gutierrez of United Language Group (ULG), and Anna Schlegel of NetApp.

I am focusing this post on two frameworks I use to discuss localization and globalization because they will be the structure of my talks at LocWorld41 Silicon Valley. And hopefully this will incentivize you to join me in my preconference workshops.

Why use frameworks?

I’ve found frameworks to be helpful to quickly abstract the daily work into a view of the infrastructure and components. Globalization, localization and internationalization are intertwined concepts with many teams that contribute to the design and execution of global products and services. To see how it works at the company-wide level, frameworks help you to zoom out, analyze the parts and understand their interaction.

What are the frameworks I use?

My initial framework came from my work in localization. I devised a specific localization framework I call WELD (Whole Enterprise Localization Design) to assess a company’s localization efforts. To assess a company’s globalization efforts I use a framework I call ADGILE (Architectural Design for Globalization, Internationalization and Localization in Enterprises). The two frameworks are deeply intertwined and WELD is a way of further parsing the localization component of ADGILE. The two are pictured below. WELD is on the left and ADGILE is on the right.

What is WELD?

For an in-depth look at WELD, I suggest you look at this post as it does a good job of summarizing the concept. Overall, WELD is a way to look at the components of whole enterprise localization and help you successfully scale localization across an organization. Most of my time in localization has been spent in a siloed organization without a top down mandate to centralize localization, so this viewpoint informs the WELD framework. WELD presents a holistic view of localization including the production of localized content or “operations”, but this is a small part of the holistic view.

What is ADGILE?

ADGILE is a holistic look at globalization across an organization. It focuses on the interaction of localization, internationalization and what I call “product culturation”. Think of product culturation as germinating a product in a new locale similar to the process that occurred for crops between Europe, Asia and the Americas after 1492. Tomatoes, corn and potatoes were transplanted to Europe; and, figs, oranges and olives, were transplanted to the Americas. Over time and generations, these plants took on characteristics unique to their new regions. Similarly, your organization, product and service will need to adapt if it is to thrive in new locales.

ADGILE serves two functions:

  1. It helps your company to assess your current globalization processes.
  2. It helps you to cultivate skills, strategies and processes to thrive in new locales.

How are these frameworks related?

I inadvertently devised WELD when I worked to build a localization platform infrastructure. As my efforts gained traction and our team finally got all the pieces in place, I realized there was still a major gap between what we offered and what the organization as a whole was doing to launch internationally. When I began consulting, I continually saw silos were making globalization difficult. Product, content and development teams work in silos but prepare for the same launches. And though C-level, strategists and production teams all work to design, launch and sustain products or services in international markets, they rarely work together. So ADGILE was devised to identify these gaps. It helps an organization to move away from isolated thinking for an international launch and helps them begin thinking about their business as global.

How are these frameworks used?

WELD is used if you are starting in localization. It is what can be accomplished from your place in the organization, but it goes far afield from day-to-day production of words.

ADGILE is a way to globalize your company and it necessarily builds on what is accomplished with WELD. ADGILE came from my cross-organizational consulting work and it provides a strategy and view that is rarely available if you are buried in a production team. These are both very large frameworks and implementing every piece of them may not be possible, especially if you are working alone.

The importance of community to implement frameworks

The real key to these frameworks is to get others to play along. I’ve tried using these frameworks in organizations that were deeply distrustful and competitive and they are very difficult to use in those settings. It is essential for you to convince others that your goal is to make everyone successful by working together. Rarely will you have a top down mandate, and even if you do it won’t help if you can’t deliver. The way to implement a holistic vision is to play nice and work together. If you can’t get others to join in, then you need to focus on building consensus before you begin with a framework.

What can you expect from my sessions?

It depends on who shows up really. I will have the requisite PowerPoint for each presentation, but they will provide launching points, rather than being a complete record of the session. I spent half of my working life as a classroom teacher, so I’m used to going off-script and working with whatever the participants bring to a discussion. Expect each workshop to be part lecture, part discussion and part strategy. The percentages of each will depend on the participants. There are many experts in localization and globalization, and I want to make sure to include the talent and experiences from others who may attend. Below is a synopsis of each course.

Localization Workshop

In the localization course I’ll spend a good portion of the time lecturing about what localization is and how you can be successful in the industry by understanding the processes, tools and expectations of each of the entry level roles. I am a firm believer that the industry has too willingly accepted the role of operations within organizations. So I’ll zoom out and look at the components of localization (through using WELD) that are necessary if you want to grow your role and the role of your team within the organization. I’ll also zoom out further to discuss the role of localization in international expansion, and how it interacts with globalization and internationalization.

Globalization Workshop

In the globalization seminar I will depend on ADGILE to explore the reasons, processes and strategies for globalization and how these will lead to international revenue growth. The discussion will focus on how to assess your own organization and how to create a plan to improve, scale, and sustain globalization efforts. Each organization is different and before making a plan you need to understand the forces driving your company and the goals your company hopes to realize as they scale internationally. If you have data you’re willing to share please bring it. Though I have examples to use, it is much more valuable to discuss the challenges you are facing. And it is much more valuable to “see the sausage-making” process because it will help you adapt what you learn to your organization.

Next Steps?

Show up! I’d love to see you there. I especially encourage experienced globalization professionals to attend. It helps to have a variety of viewpoints and experience in a discussion because it drives further analysis and learning.

Gather your data — anything you can bring will be helpful. If you have challenges please bring them. If you have failures please discuss them. And if you have successes please be willing to share. Mine is not the only opinion and anything you’re willing to share can help others to learn.

Main Conference: Globalization and Corporate Governance

I want to include information on the session at the main conference that I’ll have the honor of moderating. Anna Schlegel and Kristin Gutierrez have contributed a great deal to the localization industry. They’ve been instrumental in scaling Women in Localization, and this year Anna’s company is a diamond level sponsor of the Grace Hopper Celebration.

In their session, Kristin will interview Anna on effective strategies to transition your localization team from operations to global strategy and why it really is a good fit. Anna has successfully accomplished this very difficult task at NetApp. The interview will highlight the crucial insights and strategies Anna has used to grow “production localization” to a C-Level strategy group guiding NetApp’s global expansion.

The future of localization

To end this post, I propose that the industry creates more methods to expose students as well as career level people to localization as a career. LocWorld helped solidify my commitment to an industry that I didn’t know existed, and I will contribute to it as long as I have a path in the industry that allows me to grow beyond project management and operations.

Industry leaders need to bring more people from disparate fields and ideas from outside localization to push the industry beyond “operations”. This work has begun, but it should be expanded to ensure the industry adapts to the ever-changing needs of global business.

About the author

Paul Cerda
Paul Cerda
Founder and Principal Consultant at The Word in Bits

Paul Cerda is an experienced classroom teacher with the innate ability to demystify complex concepts through archetypes, simple graphics and storytelling. He has worked for the largest Pacific Northwest software and ecommerce companies to help design and scale whole enterprise localization efforts that accelerate global expansion across every division in the organization. As a globalization consultant, Paul quickly assesses a company and helps to create and implement globalization plans that scale products and services to global markets. He thinks big, executes adeptly and has strong strategic planning, data analytics, writing and presentation skills to drive change across organizations.

LocWorld41 Silicon Valley 2019 sessions:

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