Innovation: best practice and best fit for the future

The 2023 Think Global People and Relocate Awards took innovation as the over-arching theme with the aim of highlighting excellence across a range of global people management and mobility areas. Its objective was to showcase excellence in the leadership of people and delivery of mobility services. Dr Sue Shortland explains.

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This article is taken from the latest issue of Think Global People magazine.Click on the cover to access the digital edition.

The 2023 Think Global People and Relocate Awards took innovation as the over-arching theme with the aim of highlighting excellence across a range of global people management and mobility areas. Its objective was to showcase excellence in the leadership of people and delivery of mobility services. Dr Sue Shortland explains.


A best practice approach suggests that organisations will be following the most forward-thinking, relevant and appropriate solutions in managing their people. Typically, a best practice approach involves benchmarking against other organisations deemed to be appropriate comparators, distilling  the information on their practices to extract the best approaches and to incorporate these within an organisation’s own policy design and implementation.However, benchmarking against others – although helpful and potentially able to provide an appropriate solution – may not necessarily represent the specific conditions under which any particular employer and its employees operate. By its very nature, a best fit approach involves tailoring solutions to the particular conditions of the organisation and its situation, be that economic, political, financial or geographical. As such, approaches to international leadership and global mobility should encompass both best practice in the marketplace as well as an individual, best fit, approach linked to the exact circumstances of the business. In this way organisations can achieve optimal business outcomes.Assessing the balance between best practice and best fit is like balancing the weights of items on an oldfashioned set of scales. Too much emphasis on best practice may result in a solution that is benchmarked to industry standards but may be inappropriate to the organisation’s specific circumstances; too much emphasis on individual tailoring and best fit can result in a bespoke approach but potentially this may be out of alignment with competitors leading to a company’s potential disadvantage. So getting this balance right is a juggling act for all organisations.There will be no standard solution to weighing up the merits of a benchmarked versus a best fit approach. So this is where innovation in international leadership and global mobility comes to the fore. And that is why the 2023 Think Global People and Relocate Awards focused on innovation this year, it being particularly important given the unstable economic, financial and geopolitical climate.


This year’s awards provided the framework for organisations of all sizes to demonstrate exciting and novel approaches contributing to best practice as well as tailored, best fit solutions to management and mobility issues. This year, there were the following categories:
  • Excellence in global mobility, global policy design or implementation
  • Destination services provider of the year
  • Best serviced apartment provider
  • Excellence in technology or analytics
  • Excellence in talent development, deployment, diversity and inclusion
  • Excellence in education – schools or education consultancy
  • Best research contribution or book
  • Excellence in environmental, social and governance issues
  • Excellence in global leadership and innovation
The entrants were required to present evidence under the following headings:
  • to provide a unique, exceptional quality mobility experience;
  • a responsive, resource-efficient and cost-effective service, differentiated from others in the field; and
  • being supported by your leadership team to deliver nnovative and inspirational service in an increasingly global and diverse marketplace.
In judging the categories, the independent judges focused on evidence provided within the entry statement given, supporting documentation and accompanying video material, commenting specifically on each entrant’s contribution to knowledge and advancement of understanding of management of global people, the impact and implications for practice, and innovation and best practice. Each of the categories was judged by two or three judges working as a panel.


The quality of the entries was high and this led to lively debate among the judges. The entrants provided  compelling accounts of innovative actions and ideas illustrated with practical examples of resource and cost efficiencies. However, what was particularly striking this year was the focus on technological solutions backed up by the human touch.As organisations are moving towards more bespoke solutions in managing and relocating employees in order to enhance the employee experience and tailor policy implementation to individual situations and business requirements, the need for technology to underpin services provided has become paramount. As such, it became clear from reading the entrants’ materials that organisations that previously perhaps had not focused on technological solutions were moving in this direction.Nonetheless, what also emerged from this year’s awards was the strong focus on human  interventions. The key learning from this is that while technology can provide a quick answer, it does not replace the need for human support and guidance. This was the case among all of the categories – from the traditionally softer people skills services right through to the technology category itself. The availability of a responsive, highly flexible and accessible customer service function or the provision of helpful support networks emerged as crucial to successful people management and global mobility.Hence, while the Awards have demonstrated examples of excellent and innovative practice – representing the best practice approach to people management, they also have shown how best fit is critical to business and employee success.


The issue of global instability was clear in the examples presented of leading, managing and relocating people set against the backdrop of various global crises – from the war in Ukraine to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. It was especially inspiring to read the stories of how organisations and their employees had gone above and beyond in evacuating and housing expatriates and their  families fleeing from Ukraine and Russia but also in the actions taken to support refugees.During 2023, there has been a very strong focus within organisations on both ESG and EDI. Again it was inspiring to see innovative actions being taken on these fronts with a strong focus on the environment especially on actions to tackle climate change, as well as socially in supporting local communities in addition to employees, and taking clear action to improve organisational governance through exceptional leadership. Evidence demonstrating actions to increase diversity, and improve equity and inclusion were also evident and welcome.The Think Global People and Relocate Awards Supplement 2023 shares details and examples from the winning international leadership and mobility management entries. The examples given  demonstrate both best practice that would be worthy of benchmarking with examples of best fit, tailored solutions which were exceptionally effective in practice. There is no doubt that the impact of these activities sets a high bar, raising the standard for industry for even greater achievements in the future.

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