We were glued to BBC news this morning watching the first images of the miners, from the Chilean mine rescue. Like everyone else, we’ve been very moved by the story as it has unfolded. The grit and determination of the men is remarkable. It certainly puts into perspective much of the economic doom and gloom of late. Some people have to deal with incredible adversity. The whole world has been touched by this remarkable story.

Lessons for business from the Chilean mine rescue

So are there any lessons for business in the Chilean story? Well their determination to keep going, and never give up is remarkable. I think you need some of that determination as a business leader. Then there is the sense of empathy for people on the other side of the world. Despite huge differences between the UK and Chile, there is a definite connection with the people.

Working with cultural difference

When working internationally, there are two common errors when confronting cultural difference. One is to ignore it completely, and assume it doesn’t matter. If you were part of the rescue team, you would need to communicate in Spanish, or have an interpreter. If you try to do business in Chile, it will be important to communicate in Spanish. Not just spoken Spanish, but ensuring any written material is in Spanish too. The opposite risk, is to assume that the cultural and language barriers are too big. You then don’t even try to negotiate them. In this situation, remembering that we are all human, and face many of the same life issues is important.

Conclusions

We wish the rescue teams every success as the work continues. We also hope that the miners and their families will recover well from their difficult ordeal. It is remarkable that they have survived their ordeal so well.