I am in Lebanon this week while one of our larger clients is undergoing acquisition by another company. Their acquirer directed them to get rid of their translation firms and use the ones approved by the new company. Those who have been in Lebanon before, you must recall Lebanon’s horrific traffic.
Traffic problems are typically due to population explosion, increased appetite for cars, lack of public transportation and archaic infrastructure. All of which Lebanon suffers from. But also much of the misery is self-inflicted. This is due to the very bad driving habits (and manners) that Lebanese drivers are notorious for. It is unfortunate that these habits are major contributors to further chaos, serious accidents and frustrating traffic jams.
For those of you who have never been to Lebanon, let me give you an example. Lebanese drivers do not have the concept of a lane. Four cars share a two-lane street at a time, or more if space permits! If you attempt to claim a lane in Lebanon, drivers around you will quickly remind you. They don’t like you hogging the road. They do that with their extremely close encounters and loud horn noises, demanding that you share!
Myths in Translation & Localization
The same is true about archaic thinking and common myths in translation-localization. They are entrenched in the minds of some high-level executives. Let me illustrate…
As mentioned earlier, the higher-ups of the acquiring company have informed our client to no longer use our services. They instructed them to use the vendor that they have approved. They insisted on consolidating budgets, people and processes. After 13 years of working with us with flawless results. After helping them grow their international business by 10 times. And after making them an attractive target for acquisition, it was time to say our goodbyes.
They reluctantly replaced our trained translators, project managers, localizers and desktop publishers, as well as our tailored translation-localization methods and techniques with generic processes, less experienced staff and lower-cost services.
Translation Firms To Keep
Eight months into the transition, what was a smooth running highway, became a congested and hazardous road. One filled with potholes, delays, frustrations and casualties!
There are benefits in consolidation if you can execute and scale. But often, these benefits don’t outshine the experience that you have amassed with the vendor that consistently delivered for you over the years. If your products or processes are complex, you have to have a sound, thoroughly planned and well executed transition process. This is to have a sliver of hope in succeeding.
If with your aggressive management style you insist on sharing lanes, savings will quickly evaporate when your product releases collide and delays and frustrations become the norm. When you acquire a company, it is most likely because they were cruising fast down a brilliant path. Let them continue on their blazed trail. Allow them to claim their own lane!
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