Rules of the Game: Global Business Protocol
By Nan Leaptrott
368 pages, $27.95
Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd
Nan Leaptrott, President of Global Business Consultants, has written a masterpiece in Rules of the Game: Global Business Protocol. Not only does this compendium of excellent research seek to provide appropriate protocol and etiquette to use worldwide: it also provides the reasons “why” such protocol is appropriate. Cross cultural interaction is likened to playing a game where players must understand:
· Specific protocol for the country they are visiting
· How to deduce specific protocol when you enter a new situation
· How to fashion a game plan for any business interaction.
· Motivating factors behind each culture
The most insightful aspect of this book is the thorough explanation of the world’s three fundamental cultures: tribal, collective, and pluralist.
· To understand a tribal culture-one must understand that identity is achieved through the family unit.
· To understand a collective culture-one must understand that identity is achieved through group identification
· To understand a pluralist culture-one must understand that countries are obligated to build their own identity
Ms. Leaptrott builds upon this fundamental understanding as she develops specific protocols and etiquettes for every major country in the world. To help illustrate, the reader must understand that protocol is what to do in a certain situation; where etiquette is how to do something gracefully and respectfully. If your protocol is not seasoned with grace your interaction could falter. More to the point, Leaptrott emphasizes that each country has its own take on the rules of playing the game and gives a thorough analysis of major countries to provide the business traveler with enough information to be competent when conducting business with other cultures. (For those enjoying a rapid review, Chapter 10 is entitled “Cut to the Chase,” and it gives a very quick analysis of how the game is played in many individual nations-if all you have time for is a quick reading; its information will help you achieve success.)
Rules of the Game is written like a textbook, with appropriate exercises to challenge one’s understanding of protocol and etiquette, with sufficient explanation so that a traveler will be well prepared before attempting to interact with another culture. A novel idea is an indented “obstacle course” that gives bullet points with proper protocol for each culture illustrating points such as: how to address someone formally; who is seated first (and why); the proper interaction around giving or receiving business cards; appropriate types of opening remarks; spatial body requirements; effective presentation points; and interpretation of your body language. These “obstacle courses” alone will help to illustrate the nuances of working with other cultures-they are fitting summations of the excellent research put into this text.
Other ideas which Leaptrott tackles include: how women change the game (the controversial role of women as a type of third sex in the world of business); the role of integrity and honesty; and how to dine internationally. Can’t remember which fork is which? A quick glance at the illustrations provided should help you avoid culinary faux pas in your next formal dinner.
An encyclopedia of knowledge, Rules of the Game should be read by anyone entertaining business afar. Leaptrott’s writing is compelling and rich, seasoned with experience and flavored with substance. If you teach business, on a collegiate or high school level, you should consider incorporating this invaluable resource to prepare students for successful international business interactions in the future.