Bi-lingual people usually learn a third or fourth language easier than an adult just learning a second language. Being raised in a bi-lingual family, I know this to be true. The fact that my “words” interpreting reality can be formed from two different language perspectives is a huge advantage in learning yet another language.
One of the best parts of speaking multiple languages is knowing that certain words in one language cannot be easily explained in another. In other words, understanding a second language potentially enriches the clarity and broadness of perception.
In today’s world, businesses also benefit from a multi-cultural, multi-lingual perspective. Innovation, for example, happens predominately out of necessity. In India, solar-powered ambulance trucks have been deployed to reduce the cost of fuel for the vehicles as well as to provide energy for its medical equipment. Such innovation would be highly unlikely in North America or Europe. Companies should consider having components of their innovation centers in developing countries as a competitive advantage.
Another example of thinking more multi-dimensional (“multi-lingual”) for businesses is to consider the world-wide human resource pool in providing services. Of course, much of web development, call centers and other such work have been already off-shored from the US and Europe to Asia and Eastern Europe. Now, the knowledge and ability to implement an effective off-shoring model is considered as a core tenant of a CIO’s job.
None of this is black and white, and that’s also the great thing about learning more than one language: The broader one’s perspective, the larger the gray area becomes. So, a business has to learn how to integrate the varying perspectives of its international operations into one cohesive vision to be successful. If done correctly, such a company obviously would enjoy compelling advantages.
While large and many mid-sized companies have been successful at going international, most small companies don’t even consider this as an option. I believe, however, that a business is never too small to start thinking globally, whether in resourcing, innovating, or market expansion. Even if a business may not be ready to execute on becoming a multi-national, by thinking in global terms right away the company will be driven to a more ambitious perspective.
So, start learning another language.