Film Review: Emperor

MV5BMjI4OTcwMTY3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTI1MzcxOQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_Our family watched a movie the other night that we all thoroughly enjoyed, and it as such an excellent cross-cultural film!

Emperor tells the supposedly true story of the USA’s decisions about whether or not to try (and hang) Emperor Hirohito after Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Since I have always referenced the post-war reconstruction of Japan as “best practice” in ending a war, restoring a nation, and building an alliance (a lay person’s opinion, as politics and the military are in no way my specialties), I found this film particularly enlightening. It is a joint US-Japan production.

Emperor was released in the USA in 2012 and in Japan in 2013, but somehow just made it to my attention here in Mexico. Thank goodness it did! It stars Matthew Fox as Brigadier General Bonner Fellers, a Japan expert, and Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers), along with a host of Japanese actors.

The film captures the emotional torment
of a person attempting to bridge two cultures:
how could he be truthful, gain and maintain credibility with
both Japanese and US Americans, remain true to himself,
and yet do the right thing?

Though there are quite a few Hollywood clichés, I absolutely loved the insight into Japanese culture that Fellers demonstrates in the movie—it’s a great example of practical application of culture-specific knowledge. The film captures very well the emotional torment of a person attempting to bridge two cultures, particularly in such a sensitive situation: how could he be truthful, gain and maintain credibility with both Japanese and US Americans, remain true to himself, and yet do the right thing? The movie shows some  of the post-war devastation of Japan, the dignity of its people, and the wisdom that, fortunately, prevailed.

I believe there is much to learn here, and I hope our US military will use this film as required viewing as part of its officer training. I so often talk about the need for expats to “manage up” rather than just “manage down,” and Emperor is a terrific case study of how one general did just that.

The movie also includes a bit of love story, as Fellers tries to rekindle his relationship with Aya, a foreign exchange student he originally met at Earlham College in Indiana. Emperor is based on Shiro Okamoto’s book, His Majesty’s Salvation.

It is interesting that the movie never points out that Fellers was a Quaker, something about his background that I imagine was key to his decision making and his style, or that he was the official liaison with the Imperial Household. It is also encouraging that even with so little knowledge of the culture, he was able to do so much good. That is assuming, of course, that the movie is in any way accurate.

 

SPOILER ALERT
My one complaint about the movie is that the closing credits note that Fellers was “demoted” from being a general. This, to me, is a classic misuse of a true statement. The filmmakers should either have added an explanation or omitted this statement entirely. Sharing it in its brevity misleads and implies negativity.

The fact is that after World War II the military reduced the ranks, cutting the titles of 212 generals, because it was no longer wartime and the military no longer had a need for so many generals. Fellers reverted to colonel, but retired with the brigadier general title.

 

Recent Upgrades to Cultural Detective Online Enable Even Better Collaboration

QuickViewLensesOur most recent update incorporates significant changes to the user incident sections and the group functionality, in direct response to feedback from CDO users, so please keep those ideas coming! At Cultural Detective, we are always working to improve our flagship product, Cultural Detective Online.

conference_calling_support_headerQuick View Lenses: A New Tab On The Main Menu Bar
Maybe you are in a meeting, and you can just feel you are not quite connecting with the person sitting across from you, or the people on the other end of the conference call. Now you can quickly and easily open any of the Cultural Detective Values Lenses to use as clues in deciphering the dynamics of your conversation, and to help you bridge the communication gap!

The new Quick View Lenses tab is visible anytime you are logged into CD Online, located just to the right of the Package tab. Clicking on this tab will open a new browser window with a drop-down menu listing all Lenses in the CD Online system. Clicking on a Lens name will open that Values Lens in the new browser window.

Group Functionality: New Features
The real magic of cross-cultural collaboration is in using our differences as assets to innovate, create and solve problems—together.

You already know you can subscribe to Cultural Detective Online either as an individual user or as a group. A group may be a team that works together on a project, or a class of students. The group leader may be the team leader or the class instructor.

Collaborative Incidents and Debriefs
Group members have the option of sharing a critical incident they upload with the members of their group with one easy step. The Group Administrator will receive an email requesting approval of the incident for group-wide publication. After publication to the group, the incident creator’s name will be listed as having authored the incident.

A group member now is able to invite other group members to collaborate on an incident. This is a terrific new feature! Let’s say I’m working together with Ana on a project. I upload a story about my collaboration with Ana. She is now able to edit my incident draft, making sure it’s also accurate from her perspective. Then, together, we can debrief what happened: she gives me insight into her intentions, and I let her know what I was intending. Together, we enter interpersonal bridges—what each of us can do to reach out to the other while contributing our personal best, and systemic bridges—what our organization can do to support our efforts and encourage our intercultural success.

Group members can also create a Sample Debrief to aid other group members. The Sample Debrief will appear just like a Sample Debrief written by an author. Collaborators on an incident may also contribute to its debrief. We strongly recommend that group members create a Sample Debrief for each shared incident to aid fellow group members in their learning.

Our recent upgrade included MANY other great additions to the CD Online system. For just US$99/year, or US$150/two years, your individual subscription gives you access to the 60+ packages in our system, and permission to project its contents to your classes, trainees, or coaching clients. I can’t imagine where you can get better value for your investment!

Please join our 130 authors in putting this incredibly robust tool to good use, to build respect, understanding, inclusion and teamwork in your arenas of influence. Want to learn more about what Cultural Detective Online can do for you and your organization? Join us for our next free 90-minute webinar—click here to view the full schedule through the next few months.

We Are Not (Just) Our Nationality(ies)!

Who of us is a single story? As Chimamanda Adichie so eloquently told us, insisting on a single story is to “flatten” one’s experience. While I am USA born, it definitely irks me when those I know, often interculturalists, insist on defining me purely through that Lens. Yes, I am US American; I claim it. I have also lived overseas half my life; surely that has had no small influence on who I am today? I’m a woman, of a certain age, a mother, a friend. I’m in a committed relationship, I own a small business, I am an immigrant.

We are many things, and different aspects of our identities rise to the fore depending on the context. Shouldn’t intercultural competence enable us to get to know ourselves and others in the fullness of who we are? Two-and-a-half years ago I wrote a post on this blog about the many layers of our cultural identity.

Today, I am very proud to say that Cultural Detective Online makes it very easy to look at how real people interact in real situations, and to reflect on how our many cultures might be influencing us (or others) in a given interaction. Did I react that way because I’m a Mom? Because I’m a Baby Boomer? Or just because I’m me? Cultural Detective Online is a cross-cultural effectiveness tool that doesn’t reduce us to a single story, but rather encourages us to get to know ourselves and others as fully and wholly human. Take a look:

Remember, Values Lenses represent the core values of entire societies of millions of people; they are not intended to be used as yet another “box” into which to stereotype individuals. Try using a Values Lens to gather clues as to why someone may have responded in the the manner she or he did. Then, with perhaps a little more understanding about the other’s positive intent, you can engage in a more effective dialogue, and learn to collaborate more enjoyably and productively.

How do you use the multiple Lenses available to you within CD Online? How often do you upload stories from your everyday work or life, and purposefully learn from them? What creative things are you doing with Cultural Detective Online to further your intercultural competence? We would love to hear your experience!

A Design for Incorporating Cross-cultural Effectiveness into Existing Programs

arton235-88ad2Do you have an existing curriculum or training design and wish you could simply add a cross-cultural element to it? You probably don’t realize how easy and affordable it is to keep your existing objectives and design, while weaving in key cross-cultural dynamics using Cultural Detective. Below is a half-day design using Cultural Detective that works well in a variety of contexts with a variety of topics:

  • In business for global management, leadership across cultures, multicultural or international customer service, multicultural team effectiveness, negotiating across cultures, management and motivation, new hire orientation, expatriation (prior to departure, during the assignment, reentry).
  • In study abroad for students during orientation, their sojourn and reentry; orientations for host families; teamwork and community-building for students, receiving organizations, and host families.
  • For special purposes such as patient-care across cultures, multicultural spiritual communities, and neighborhood community building.

A Sample Half-Day Training Design Leveraging the Cultural Detective® Method

1. Objectives, introductions, agenda (of your chosen topic).

2. “What’s in it for me?” Present your topic in context; why is it important?

3. Skills for [workshop topic, e.g., leadership, teamwork, healthcare, sales, etc.] Across Cultures:

  • Tell a story or show a video of cross-cultural interaction in the context of the [workshop topic]. The playlists and videos on Cultural Detective‘s YouTube channel may give you some ideas.
  • Lead the participants through an analysis of the story (debrief) using the Cultural Detective Worksheet.
  • Once complete, ask participants what they learn from this approach (values, beliefs and “common sense” world view motivate behavior; world views are often different but all are “correct”; similar values can lead to different behavior; different values can motivate similar behavior; bridges must leverage similarities and shared objectives as well as differences/complementarities; bridges must be interpersonal and multidirectional but also organizational/systemic)
  • Summarize: What skills for [workshop topic] can we learn from this Cultural Detective (CD) approach?
  • Apply: How can participants use this CD approach in their daily work?

4. Culture-specific Skills for [workshop topic]

  • Introduce Values Lenses: what they are and aren’t; explain values and negative perceptions.
  • Introduce the Values Lens for each of the cultures in the story you told or the video clip you showed.
  • Ask participants if these values provide them further insight or deeper understanding of the incident. Do the Lenses provide any clues to help them add information to the CD Worksheet debrief? If not, fine. If yes, use that info.
  • Summarize: What skills for [workshop topic] can we learn by using Values Lenses? How can we use the Lens tools well? How should we never use the Lenses? (Lenses are guides to societal norms, and should never be used to stereotype or “box-in” individuals, but rather as clues for learning and dialogue.)
  • Apply: How could participants use Values Lenses in their daily work?

5. Knowing Oneself as a Cultural Being in the Context of [workshop topic]

  • Use a couple of the activities from Cultural Detective Self Discovery and guide participants to complete a Personal Values Lens
  • In pairs or threes, have participants share their Personal Lenses with one another
  • Have them discuss how they could best work together in the context of [workshop topic], to bring out the best in one another.
  • Summarize: What are some best practices for cross-cultural [workshop topic]? What have you learned?
  • Provide the Cultural Detective’s “A Dozen Best Practices for Cross-Cultural Effectiveness.”
  • Apply: What will you do to ensure you perform at your best in a cross-cultural [workshop topic] situation? To ensure you bring out the best in your team/clients/patients?

6. Summary and Application

  • Provide a list of skills for effective cross-cultural [workshop topic].
  • Ask participants what they have learned about themselves today as regards [workshop topic]?
  • What are the top 1-3 skills each participant wants to demonstrate to enhance their cross-cultural effectiveness at [workshop topic]?
  • How will they hold themselves accountable?

What cost does this add to your curriculum? If you are training 30 or more people, Cultural Detective Self Discovery licenses are just US$15 per participant. For Values Lenses, you can subscribe to Cultural Detective Online for less than $100 per year and project Lenses in a group training environment. The subscription price goes down for multiple users, to less than $30 per year per subscriber.

We hope you find this sample design useful, and that you will share with us your tried-and-true designs and curricula for integrating Cultural Detective into educational or training programs. We know you do terrific work, in such a broad variety of contexts, and your designs will no doubt stimulate others’ creativity and effectiveness. Together we can build a more equitable, just, respectful world in which we collaborate for a sustainable future!

Transforming Lives: Education as an Alternative to Violence

AUN “The youth in Nigeria are beginning to speak—some with violence.
They attract attention. But others are also speaking.
The question is, is anyone listening to this plea
for western education, for training, for reform, for help?”

—Margee Ensign, President, American University of Nigeria

With all the grim news coming out of Nigeria these days, I thought you might want to hear about a little-known educational bright spot in the country: the unique programs offered at the American University of Nigeria, founded in Yola (capital of Adamwa state) in 2005 by the country’s former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar.

Despite Boko Haram’s year-long campaign of terror, including kidnapping over 300 girls from a school, murdering family members, burning villages, and displacing thousands of people, most families still desire an education for their girls and their boys, says Margee Ensign, President of AUN. And AUN provides it.

Both the university’s valedictorian and its graduating class speaker this year are women. The university is one of the leaders in the interfaith peace initiative. It has hired and trained more than 500 female and male security guards to protect the campus and its housing, offering each of them a free education. AUN facilities include a nursery school, primary and secondary school, in addition to the university itself. It recently dedicated a new library that has received international accolades for its efforts to create the finest e-library in Africa.

“Security comes not from our security force, but from our development and peace efforts,” Margee reports. In one of the poorest places on earth, AUN has a program to teach local women literacy and entrepreneurship skills, to enable them to generate income for their families. The university’s Peace Council has created 32 football and volleyball “unity teams” for young people to play in tournaments year-round. None of the young people have jobs, over half have dropped out of high school, and 10% have not even completed elementary school. Sports team members study a peace curriculum focused on building understanding and tolerance. The unity teams help ensure that these youth stay active and involved in their communities—making them less vulnerable to recruiting by terrorist groups like Boko Haram.

This kind of creative programming doesn’t happen by accident. Margee is a tough, dedicated, innovative, and tireless educator. Her extensive experience in administrative and faculty positions in universities in the USA (including Columbia University in New York, Tulane University in New Orleans, and the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California), and her interest and experience in international development in Africa, make her well-prepared to be president of AUN.

“I met with about 80 women in the [AUN entrepreneurship] program…They wanted to learn English, Nigeria’s official language, so that they could read to their children. In modern education, they knew, lay the only hope for the future.”

Margee relishes the challenges of working across cultures. She has embraced the local community culture, while building a university culture that retains important aspects of the US educational experience. After all, this is why parents are sending their children to college at AUN. She’s always recruiting—looking for people with just the right skills, willing to give their time and talent to join the international faculty and staff at AUN, a growing academic community in Nigeria.

The Cultural Detective Team believes it is possible to help make the world a better place through our actions. Yet, it isn’t always easy! Cultural Detective: Global Teamwork investigates some of the challenges involved in managing culturally diverse teams in today’s global environment, even if working in the same geographical location. What is the task? How do we form and maintain a high performing team? How do we manage the terrain or contexts in which team members work? How do we choose the right technology to support the team? How do time and space affect communication? Add culture to this mix, and it is even more complex! These are just the beginning of the challenges Margee faces each day—and she loves it!

All around the globe, dedicated, competent people are working to make a corner of the world a better place—often, not the corner of the world in which they were born and raised. Yet, they are motivated to share their skills in multiple arenas and diverse geographical locations. You probably know people that match this description—or are you one?! We’d be delighted to share their stories or yours with our readers!

With all the doom and gloom in the news, it is good to remind ourselves that generous people are doing wonderful things in difficult circumstances. A recent article written by Margee and published on the BBC.com website offers an often overlooked perspective on the area better known for the rampages of Boko Haram. We invite you to read Margee’s entire article here: “Nigerians defy terror to keep learning.”

World Day for Cultural Diversity

unlogoMay 21st is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. It is a day on which we are all encouraged to do one thing to promote diversity and inclusion in our spheres of influence.

What one thing will you do today? Please share!

As for me, besides publishing this blog post, today I’ll be working on designs for two different workshops, one on identity and authenticity in our blended culture world, and the second on strategic development of inclusive organizations. I will be finishing up the editing on a second chapter of a book on cultural differences, and talking to professionals about conducting webinars to promote diversity, inclusion and cross-cultural collaboration. Last night I attended a book signing for a new novel centered around immigration, published by a dear friend of mine. Who knows what else this day might bring?

“Our cultural diversity is a stimulator of creativity. Investing in this creativity can transform societies. It is our responsibility to develop education and intercultural skills in young people to sustain the diversity of our world and to learn to live together in the diversity of our languages, cultures and religions, to bring about change.”
—Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Please do share what one thing you’re doing today to promote inclusion, collaboration and justice in our world! Thanks for being on the journey with me and our terrific Cultural Detective team!

Strong, Strategic Global Leadership

leadershipCompanies today need to be good at whatever their main business is, but they also need to be quickly adaptable to change. And, these days, they need to adhere to a strict set of ethical standards that are demanded by an increasingly informed and diverse customer base. Such a tough bundle of abilities requires strong, strategic leadership.

I recently came across an interesting infographic from New England College’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies, and thought you would like to see it. The graphic summarizes the findings of six different studies—from McKinsey, Deloitte, LRN, the Center for Creative Leadership, and Harvard—saying that companies are seeking:
  • Simultaneous growth, cost reduction and increased innovation.
  • Better alignment of organizational values and operational behavior.
  • To create environments in which employees are comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas—inclusive spaces.

The graphic illustrates the four leadership skills needed to achieve these too-often elusive goals. To view the infographic in larger format click here, then click on the image that opens.

1391539920-you-good-leader-infographic

Leadership Skill #1: Ethical Leadership

Interestingly, the top skill identified is ethical leadership—studies correlate business success to ethical initiatives. Aligning organizational values with operational behavior, and ensuring ethical practice across the organization, is all the more challenging given the international nature of business today. Add in the diversity of the worldviews and “cultural sense” of the mobile workforces of this millennium, and things become even more complex.

Let’s face it, employees in different geographies, from different cultural backgrounds, view the concept of “ethical” differently. They operationalize corporate values differently. Cultural Detective Global Business Ethics (CD GBE) is a perfect tool to aid organizations in achieving the alignment that’s needed. The package is designed to help leadership think through the cross-cultural permutations—the ways members of different cultures may operationalize organizational values and ethics—and develop strategy to build alignment.

CD GBE can also be used to help train staff worldwide, so they know how your organizational values translate into everyday operations. It can help open the dialogue among all levels of the organization to ensure your values are understood and implemented consistently—and with local appropriateness.

Leadership Skill #2: Use Your Power Wisely

Power is a leadership trait no matter where in the world you work, whether that power is real or perceived. In certain locations power may be based on title or position in the hierarchy. In others it is based on expertise—but does this mean a person is perceived powerful due to credentials and education, or to skills and experience? The Values Lenses and critical incidents in every Cultural Detective package can help you and your organization learn to project and perceive power wisely, no matter where or with whom you work.

Another key aspect of power resides in the relationships we build, the influence we have on others. Whom we trust, whom we allow to sway us, is perhaps one of the most culturally determined aspects of our lives.

Do we trust the person who speaks plainly (who could be perceived by some as rude or uneducated), or the person who speaks diplomatically (and could be perceived as “brown-nosing” or unprincipled)? Are we swayed by the person who tries to convince us via logic and argument, by someone who shows us by example, or by the person who enthusiastically invites us to use a new service? Again, the Cultural Detective series will help leaders and a global workforce better understand and navigate such differences.

Leadership Skill #3: Manage Crises

The Chinese characters for “crisis” remind us it can be a danger or an opportunity. Leaders can convert crisis into opportunity by knowing themselves and being solidly grounded in their values. A well-rooted tree will sway in the wind and not become uprooted. Cultural Detective Self Discovery is the perfect tool to enable leaders to clarify their personal core values, and to reconcile them with organizational values, the values of the various cultures in which they do business, and the values of other members of their team. Leaders will be better able to manage crises; to anticipate their reactions so they can wisely choose, in the moment, how to respond; and to be better able to explain their actions to others who may not share or enact their values in the same way. Try it out with a pilot group of your leaders, and you will be amazed by the results.

Leadership Skill #4: Cultivate Change

Change is cultivated by providing opportunities for employees to practice what they’ve learned. Cultural Detective Online (CD Online) enables you to provide just that opportunity—teach a skill, then encourage your employees actively practice it for several weeks, using the CD Online system for reflection and learning. Several weeks of on-the-job practice leads to employee retention, and provides a practical method to resolve employee conflicts and encourage understanding.

Change is also effected by leaders realizing that workers’ motivations may be different than theirs. Research in the graphic supports this idea. And, that is the core Cultural Detective process, as you’ve by now surmised—perspective taking. There are two specific packages in the series, as well, to aid in this regard—Cultural Detective Global Diversity and Inclusion, and Cultural Detective Global Teamwork. Wonderfully, both are included in the very reasonably priced (less than US$100/year for access to 60 packages) CD Online.

What are you waiting for? Are you a strong, strategic global leader? Do you want to help others to be? Learn how to use Cultural Detective Online by joining one of our free webinars or get your subscription now!

 

Are You Nice???

Woman-Holding-Gift-Wrapped-in-Yellow460x300

This is a guest blog post by Carrie Cameron, co-author of Cultural Detective Russia.

Take the following quiz:

  1. Someone surprises you with a beautifully wrapped gift. You’re so appreciative! You…
    1. Tear it open enthusiastically and express great admiration for the object, whatever it is, and thank the giver.
    2. Accept the gift, warmly thank the giver for his or her thoughtfulness, and put the unwrapped gift, whatever it is, on the table behind you.
  2. You’re seated on the airplane next to someone of the same gender who looks nice. You…
    1. Strike up a friendly conversation.
    2. Quietly mind your own business.
  3. You’re at a reception where few people know one another. You…
    1. Approach someone, extend your hand, and introduce yourself.
    2. Find the host who will then make an introduction for you.
  4. A member of your office staff comes in one day looking upset, maybe they’ve even been crying. You…
    1. Approach them in the break room and say, “Are you okay?? Did something happen to you?”
    2. Pretend you don’t notice so they won’t feel embarrassed.

If you tended towards the “A” answers above, your cultural style might be one of “expressive” politeness. If you had more “B” answers, your cultural style may be one of “reserved” politeness. This dimension of culture was introduced by social scientists Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, who termed these differences “positive” and “negative” politeness. (To avoid any confusion about the original terms, we use here the terms “expressive” and “reserved,” respectively.)

“Politeness strategies” are the customs, often unnoticed or unconscious, by which we express favorable attitudes toward others. But it is important to remember that not every culture uses the same strategies to do this.

Expressive-politeness cultures generally show good intentions by reaching out actively to others. They have a tendency to reveal emotions before knowing whether the approach is acceptable or not to the other person. Reserved-politeness cultures tend to show good intentions by never imposing themselves on another without first knowing the other person’s attitude.

Both of these cultural styles are polite, but they are different ways of demonstrating it. The same behavior that may be considered polite in one culture could be considered rude in another culture. Remember those examples in the quiz above?

Some cultures traditionally thought of as reserved are British, German, and Japanese, while characteristics of expressive cultures are found in US American culture (especially Southern and African American cultures), Australian, Mexican, and Italian. Which style resonates with you most?

It’s important to remember that not all expressive cultures are alike, and not all reserved cultures are alike. While each culture is unique in how it shows politeness, knowing something about this dynamic can help people be more accepting of unfamiliar styles. It may also help individuals become more aware of how their own behaviors and actions may appear to others. This additional cultural self-awareness allows the opportunity to adjust one’s behavior to actually be polite—from the viewpoint of someone culturally different from oneself.

Check out some of the critical incidents in Cultural Detective Online to see the cultural variations of politeness in action, and learn to navigate them more effectively. Use Cultural Detective Self Discovery to clarify your own values and styles, and develop a better ability to explain yourself to those who are different.

Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31355-1

Transgender Hijras Promote Traffic Safety

Long live the hijras! I love this public service announcement, on so many levels! Just had to share.

A Rainbow with a Streak of Gray: Demographic Trends in the United States

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Photo ©Dreamstime.com

“Demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. America is in the midst of two right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Each of these shifts would by itself be the defining demographic story of its era. The fact that both are unfolding simultaneously has generated big generation gaps that will put stress on our politics, families, pocketbooks, entitlement programs and social cohesion.”
—Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center

As a US American interested in diversity issues, I was intrigued by the recently released Pew Center report based on the book, The Next America, examining demographic changes taking place in the United States. Pew reports are well-researched, present interesting and useful data, and never fail to give me a different perspective on the world in which we live.

The United States is changing demographically faster than many of us realize. I remember a few years ago, when working for an educational institution that offered diversity courses, a city official from California called to say they needed help because the “minority” population was soon to be over 50%! Today, I rarely hear the term “minority,” and this study definitely shows why.

“In 1960, the population of the United States was 85% white; by 2060, it will be only 43% white. We were once a black and white country. Now, we’re a rainbow.”

Immigration is the main force behind this rainbow, according to the report. Large numbers of immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th century were from Europe; today only 12% are European. Since 1965, the USA has seen more than 40 million immigrants; about half are Hispanic and nearly three-in-ten are Asian.

As this shift in demographics has taken place, so have shifts in attitudes. According to Mark Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research at Pew, ““Intermarriage is playing a big role in changing some of our views of ethnicity.” Currently, 15% of marriages are between people who are not of the same race or ethnicity—that is, one out of six marriages. Talk about a “melting pot!”

As these marriages produce children, a new set of issues arises.  One example: categories of race and ethnicity on government forms are less likely to fit or be meaningful. What do you call yourself when you are confronted with choosing just one part of your interracial or interethnic (Blended Culture) identity?

This situation arose recently when my son (White) and his wife (African American/White) had to complete a form to enroll their three-year old son in pre-school. Although one-quarter African American, my grandson looks very White, like his dad. There was lengthy discussion about what race to choose: African American or White. There were no other options, available for them—they could only choose one “race”—and they were uncomfortable with either choice as it didn’t reflect his heritage accurately.

Not only is the USA becoming more ethnically and racially diverse, but our population is aging. According to the study’s author, “10,000 Baby Boomers a day will turn 65—every single day between now and the year 2030.” That’s a lot of old people!

Contrast their lives with that of the first generation of “digital natives”—people for whom the online world has always existed. Their experience is shaped in part by their technological comfort and ease, while many of the older generation struggle to simply use their cell phones.

However, more than a “digital divide” exists among the generations in the USA. Growing up in different times and having radically different experiences means that the generations don’t always see eye-to-eye on lifestyle, issues, or politics. Yet, these days, a record number of US Americans—over 50 million—live in multi-generational family households, according to the report.

While this may seem perfectly normal to some of our blog readers, it is a new reality in the US. In the past several years, a stigma became attached to returning home after moving out for school or a job. To many, an adult “boomerang” child returning home to live with their parents was “clearly” a failure or had problems of some sort. No longer! Due to the poor economy, it is now seen as quite practical to live together when one can’t find a job or has limited (or no) means. And, as much as they might like each other, differences in opinion can cause stress in a household.

“It is a challenge for our society how we navigate this change at a time when the young and old don’t look alike, don’t think alike, and don’t vote alike.”
—Paul Taylor, author  The Next America

Cultural Detective has tools to facilitate change by helping users to better understand some of the different cultures making up the USA today. First, however, as intercultural professionals worldwide know, before one can understand others, one needs to understand oneself.

Cultural Detective Self Discovery helps people discover their values, preferences, and the cultural influences driving their thinking and their actions, and explore their cultural identities. It can be used as a stand-alone exercise or as a powerful component in sessions focused on cultural awareness, diversity and self-development, or as a process to facilitate teambuilding and organizational synergies.

Cultural Detective Generational Harmony provides a glimpse into four distinct generations in the USA, each with differing experience, expectations, and lifestyle requirements. By understanding these distinctions, one can be better prepared to recognize and manage issues that may arise due to generational differences in the workplace, while at the same time meeting organizational demands and objectives.

Cultural Detective African American explores the complexities of African American culture in the USA today. It investigates the values and communication styles of this community in an effort to bridge cultural gaps and support more inclusive groups, communities, and workplaces.

Cultural Detective Latino/Hispanic introduces this heterogeneous, multiracial group residing in the United States, people with cultural, historical, and ethnic roots in countries of Latin America. Comprising the fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the United States, Latino/Hispanics now number over 50 million, and account for one-out-of-four public school students in the US.

Cultural Detective USA offers insight into some of the key values that are representative of the dominant societal norm, in large measure Protestant, Anglo-Saxon values. While there is a wealth of ethnic, racial and cultural diversity within the USA, one needs to be aware of the power of the dominant culture in influencing behavior, as well as the specific values of other cultural groups, when learning about the USA.

Cultural Detective Blended Culture investigates those who hold multiple frames of cultural reference within themselves. This may include such individuals as internationally assigned employees and their families, immigrants and refugees; those who have grown up as members of ethnic minority communities within a dominant culture; and people raised by parents of different cultural backgrounds.

Cultural Detective Bridging Cultures helps take cultural awareness and savvy to the next level by looking at how to develop effective bridging strategies for working across cultures. Recognizing that cultural understanding is essential but not enough, this packages focuses exclusively on connecting cultural similarities and bridging cultural differences effectively to reap the benefits of diversity.

Any of these packages sound interesting? Cultural Detective Self-Discovery and Cultural Detective Bridging Cultures are available for purchase through our website. The other packages mentioned are available for handy reference, 24/7, as part of Cultural Detective Online. What are you waiting for? Use Cultural Detective to investigate the cultures shaping the USA and our world, and Get A Clue!