During a recent trip to a Celanese European-sites workshop in Sulzbach, Germany, I had time to reflect on the good fortune I’ve had to visit many sites and enjoy the cultural differences that only a truly global organization like Celanese offers.

Aside from the more popularly accepted and incontestable distinctions (milling in my head whilst sitting in the workshop classroom): the Germans make great cars, the Dutch and the Belgians are incredible linguists, the French and the Spanish are culinary connoisseurs, and all Englishmen wear bowler hats – there’s so much to learn and experience from the cultural differences and talents that make up this organization of ours.

It’s fascinating and inspiring to observe ‘how others do it’, bringing a constant reminder that ‘ours’ is not always the best way, and indeed, the best way doubtlessly comprises a fusion of the better practices across sites, across countries. It’s great to see therefore that we are a company committed to fully embracing this opportunity.  I’ve seen, first-hand, just how valuable global cross-site learning can be, through my involvement with the Acetyls & Chemicals Center of Excellence, and the bottom-line benefits this has generated.

Our commonality is a strategic understanding of the challenges and deliverables. Our mode of delivery reflects our contrasts, albeit within the framework of values that underpin Celanese. Competitive advantage is borne out of the ready capability to assimilate the better ideas and approaches across the globe, in the almost cold-eye manner that this affords. Global diversity allows innovation to flourish, whilst a high level centralized structure permits effective harnessing of the superior concepts. A one-size-fits-all, top-down approach stymies such advantage.

Six Sigma rightly teaches us to reduce variability in our processes and products, but where people are concerned variability is everything. So let’s celebrate the differences we all bring to Celanese and continue to build on the innovative and collective power this gives us.