Emotions: An Exercise and a Tool

continents

Continents of Emotion

Emotional intelligence has been a major buzz word the last few years. Deservedly so; in this highly polarized world of ours emotional intelligence might be more valuable than just about any other intelligence. Obviously, interculturally competent people need to have emotional intelligence. We need to be able to understand why we respond the way we do, and channel our emotions in constructive ways. We need to be able to not get upset just because someone else does, and remain committed over the long term.

It has long interested me, then, since emotions are so important to our happiness and success in life, why we don’t we, as average people, know more about them? How many words for different emotions can you list? Happy, sad, joyful, loving, aggravated… Take a moment to try it and see.

  1. Make a list of terms for different emotions. Capture quickly as many as you can.
  2. Organize the words you listed into major categories of human emotion, and give each of the categories a name.
  3. Rank the words you’ve listed within each category in order of intensity.
  4. Finally, link the categories of emotions to the behaviors they can motivate.

Now ask your family members, friends, or team members to do the same. My guess is you’ll find some key commonalties and some significant differences. Definitely you will be able to have a fruitful discussion about emotions and how they are interpreted and expressed across your various cultural groups.

The exercise above emerged after I came upon a resource some months ago that I have found useful in helping me reflect on and distinguish the emotions in my life. It’s called the Atlas of Emotions, and it’s a free online tool.

The tool begins with five “Continents of Emotion:” Sadness, Fear, Enjoyment, Anger, and Disgust. I must say, I don’t like the ratio of four out of five negative emotions, but… Clicking on any continent tells you a core motivator of that emotion.

Next you can go into “States of Emotion;” there are many states for each core emotion, and the tool ranks them in representative intensity. Third, you can click on “Actions of Emotion,” where we see what type of behavior we might take in response to the various emotions we feel. This to me is an especially powerful cross-cultural piece. The tool then takes us into the “Triggers of Emotion.” Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

“Moods of Emotion” are described as “longer-lasting cousins of the emotion, that cause the related emotion to be felt more frequently and intensely. It is not always apparent what triggers a mood.”

Finally, according to the tool, “A calm, balanced frame of mind is necessary to evaluate and understand our changing emotions. Calmness ideally is a baseline state, unlike emotions, which arise when triggered and then recede.”

Let me say that the part about the Atlas of Emotions that quickly concerned me is in the biography of the lead psychologist behind the tool, Paul Ekman. He apparently “demonstrated the universality of facial expression of emotion, mapping all 43 muscle groups used in facial expression.” I have not taken the time to review themes recent literature on this subject, but if you are reading this blog, you no doubt are well aware that facial expression and expression of emotion are far from universal. I welcome anyone current on the subject to please enlighten us in the comments below.

Despite this misgiving, I find the tool quite useful. It can be used for powerful personal reflection and learning, and it can be a terrific tool for discussing and reflecting on emotions across cultures—to understand more deeply, with more distinctions. I can see its use in conjunction with Cultural Detective Self Discovery, Cultural Detective Bridging Cultures, or any CD Worksheet analysis of critical incidents.

In the end, if you use a tool like this simply to spark thinking, reflection, learning, and discussion, then the thoroughness, accurateness, or universality of the tool doesn’t matter that much. If you give this exercise a go, please come back and share your experience!

Cross-cultural Teaming in a Laboratory

This is a guest blog post written by Amy Prunuske and Katie Nemeth. Their biographies follow the text.

lab-1825276The laboratory is a multicultural environment that stimulates innovation but also contributes to misunderstandings. Scientists often have formal training in research techniques, but rarely in communication, and particularly not in cross-cultural communication.

In the University of Wisconsin biochemistry laboratory in which Amy did her research training, there were lab mates from Korea, Germany, Japan, India, and Poland, as well as the USA. This diversity is vital for the development of new ideas, but it can also create communication challenges. Many of the undergraduates in the US Midwest come to the university with minimal exposure to people from different backgrounds, so it is important to help them understand that different cultures have differing verbal and nonverbal rules mediating social interactions.

During Katie’s postdoctoral training, she participated in many active learning and training workshops. While diversity and inclusivity were part of the lesson designs, she wondered if and how students could become actively mindful of the role that culture plays in a group setting. Seeking out ideas, she participated in non-science workshops and discovered Ecotonos: A Simulation for Collaborating Across Cultures. After finding this vital missing link, Katie worked with Amy to add the experiential learning component to various courses and groups in the biology department.

We have found that Ecotonos is an amazing way to expose scientists to the existence of cultural differences and how to use them as assets. As part of the activity, students are divided into three monocultural groups: Delphenius, Zante, and Aquila—each with a unique set of cultural characteristics. Ecotonos comes with ten sets of rule cards, three case studies and three different tasks, so students can play the game repeatedly and each time it’s different. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

In our work with the biology students, we have them practice their new cultural rules by creating a flag that represents the values of their culture (see pictures). The students in the monocultural groups enjoy taking on these new characteristics, with some finding it easy and others finding it challenging to behave in new ways.

After the monocultural work, participants are re-sorted into multicultural groups of different structures: minority-majority, joint venture with balanced populations, and diverse membership with representatives of all three cultures. In their multicultural groups, we have them rank the performance of three hypothetical workers, with the three workers demonstrating characteristics similar to one of the three sets of group rules. This exposes the participants to the ways in which we can be biased toward people with behaviors similar to those of our own culture, and allows students to practice getting beyond their biases.

We have used the program as part of the introduction to the biology laboratory, where they will be expected to work in groups, as well as in programs for undergraduates from groups under-represented in the sciences.

Ecotonos is a great ice breaker activity for the students to get to know their classmates, and students often carry forward some of the behaviors learned during the activity, like snapping in approval, as part of creating a new shared culture for their group. Most students find the activity to be fun, and leave it with a much greater appreciation for the challenges of working across cultures.

Here’s a typical student comment: “It was helpful to understand how difficult it might be interacting with a different culture for the first time.” This is an important lesson for scientists, who often believe their discipline is a meritocracy not subject to the biases that are universally found. We are currently measuring the impact of Ecotonos using the cultural intelligence assessment.

We would like to thank Dr. Shelley Smith for introducing Ecotonos to us.  We are grateful for the time she took to share her expertise in running the activity.

amy-prunuske-2016
Amy Prunskee is a Faculty Curriculum Program Manager and Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Medical College of Wisconsin — Central Wisconsin.

katie-nemeth2
Katie Nemeth is an Assistant Professor of the teaching faculty in College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN.

 

2017 Professional Development Calendar

smartphone-1445489Do you work in a multicultural, geographically dispersed team or organization? Do you lead one? Are you charged with developing diversity and inclusion competence, or intercultural competence, in your students, colleagues or clients? Would you benefit from an intercultural competence tool that looks at people as unique individuals influenced by multiple different cultures (organizational, professional training, age/generation, spiritual tradition) and teaches critical thinking in context?

If so, you will want to attend one of our Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification programs. Use of Cultural Detective does not require certification—the Cultural Detective Method and materials were designed with the idea that they could be used by interested non-specialists. However, the Cultural Detective Series is so robust that users often ask for in-depth workshops to learn more about the many applications and strengths of this approach, and to network with peers using the Cultural Detective Method.

Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Workshops are designed for small groups who share two-and-a-half days of intense, guided interaction; current schedule of workshops is below. We explore what “intercultural communication competence” means and offer ways to use Cultural Detective to enhance intercultural effectiveness in your organization or community. We have three public sessions on the calendar for 2017:

  1. IRELAND, Dublin, 22-24 May
  2. USA, Portland OR, 22-23 July
  3. AUSTRIA, Vienna, 23-25 November

Register now to secure your seat as spaces are limited. Certification Workshops are a wonderful way for the advanced practitioner to reflect on the things that matter, and develop the ability to combine and integrate various theories, approaches, and tools in the field. We explore the impact of multiple cultures on each of us, the idea of layering Value Lenses to visually represent these influences, and a variety of ways to incorporate Cultural Detective into your training, teaching and coaching.

Awesome New Webinar Series!

eventbriteCultural Detective offers a series of complimentary webinars that you, your colleagues, clients, and prospects should most definitely attend. In the introductory 90-minute webinar, “Cross-Cultural Effectiveness,” participants learn the basic Cultural Detective Method for analyzing interactions in context and using differences as assets, and they receive a three-day pass to the Cultural Detective Online system to explore later on their own. If you haven’t attended, we urge you to do so. And, seriously, invite your colleagues, clients, students, prospects, neighbors; this is great free marketing—many in our community use it as one of the steps in their sales funnel. And don’t forget those in the educational arena—quite a few professors now require Cultural Detective for their classes.

In addition to our introductory webinars, this year we have added four NEW standard webinars, AND we are adding a special series of four online workshops on Latin America! We invite you to join us for one or all of these exciting webinars.

https-cdn-evbuc-com-images-27476928-52936038434-1-originalCheck out our new special four-part series called “Latin America and Its Place in World Life.” The first online workshop will focus on the Andes Region, the second on the Cone South, the third on Central America including México, and the last on the Caribbean Islands. If you attend all four, you will receive a one-month pass to Cultural Detective Online and one hour of consulting from Fernando Parrado, principal facilitator of the webinars, founder of Global Minds, and co-author of Cultural Detective Colombia. Here’s the series description:

  • Latin America has assumed a key leadership role in exploring innovative solutions for restructuring societal inequity and promoting responsible development and the sustainable use of natural resources. Many of these efforts are based on popular, direct-democratic movements, including indigenous social movements. Eleven nations include multiculturalism and multilingualism in their constitutions, and an additional four recognize indigenous rights. The region’s economy is the third largest with a GDP of $5,573,397 million USD, its population was estimated at more than 604 million (third in the world), and biggest world territory (it has an area of approximately 19,197,000 km2).Yet Latin America has been culturally misunderstood! It is often treated as a single market with shared language, religion, history and culture, but the region envelops important differences. This highly experiential workshop will enable participants to explore the richness, complexity, irony, and promise of the hundreds of cultures that comprise Latin America.
got-ic

Superman is property of DC Comics; original photo is probably ©Warner Brothers

Our four newly launched webinars are:

  1. Cultural Self Discovery in CD Online
    During this 90-minute online learning event, participants will learn how Cultural Detective Online allows you to make Personal Values Lenses, a powerful tool for developing understanding of oneself as a cultural being, knowledge that can help you more fully understand why you respond the way you do, and explain yourself to others who may not share your values. Personal Values Lenses can be overlaid and compared with national Values Lenses or Values Lenses of different generations, spiritual traditions, genders, or sexual orientations. Personal Values Lenses are also incredibly helpful tools for enhancing team, family, or community effectiveness. Participants will also leave with a new cross-cultural activity.
  2. Group Collaboration in CD Online
    The value of social and collaborative learning are undisputed, and Cultural Detective Online harnesses the power of such learning simply and easily. During this 60-minute online learning event, participants will learn how to: set up and manage group subscriptions, subscribe and unsubscribe group members and enable them to collaboratively write critical incidents and debriefs, instruct group members to share their work with you (or keep it private), approve or edit submissions, and share submissions with other group members. Participants will receive the PowerPoint slides used in the presentation.
  3. Building Intercultural Competence in an Organization Using Cultural Detective
    In an age when our world communities are polarized like never before, Cultural Detective is an effective tool for bridging differences, resolving conflict, and engaging in difficult dialogues. During this 60-minute online learning event, participants will explore some of our client’s best practices for building intercultural competence, effectiveness, and innovation by making the most of Cultural Detective Online in their organizations. We will cover both strategies and techniques, small projects and organization-wide efforts. Participants will also leave with a new cross-cultural activity.
  4. How is Cultural Detective Different from Other Intercultural Tools?
    These days we are blessed with a broad selection of intercultural communication and diversity tools, exercises, and techniques. Yet, the vast majority of these are based on cultural dimensions—a terrific model for comparing cultures, though not necessarily effective for bridging them, and particularly not for helping us build respect, equity, and justice in our world. During this 60-minute online learning event, participants will take a look at some of the features that make Cultural Detective Online effective and unique in the marketplace, as well as key requisites to developing intercultural competence.

Seats are limited, so be sure to reserve yours today!

Immigration Syllabus

aaia_crop

Today, immigration historians from across the USA launched #ImmigrationSyllabus, a website and educational resource to help the public understand the deep historical roots of today’s immigration debates. Created in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and made available through the University of Minnesota Libraries, #ImmigrationSyllabus is a tool for teaching, learning and advocacy. The full 15-week syllabus with weekly themes, primary sources and multimedia is available online at immigrationsyllabus.umn.edu.

“I am proud to be collaborating with colleagues across the United States in this important initiative,” said Erika Lee, director of the Immigration History Research Center at the U of M. “With current debates and federal actions on immigration, understanding the historical context of immigration in this nation is more vital than ever.”

The syllabus seeks to provide historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship. The syllabus follows a chronological overview of U.S. immigration history, but it also includes thematic weeks that cover salient issues in political discourse today such as xenophobia, deportation policy, and border policing. Listing essential topics and readings and linking to historical documents and multimedia sources, #ImmigrationSyllabus helps answer important questions such as:

  • Who has come to the United States and why?
  • Why has immigration been such a hotly debated topic then – and now?
  • When and why did the U.S. start building walls and banning and deporting immigrants?
  • What were the consequences of those policies?
  • What’s “new” about new immigration to the United States?
  • What lessons might we learn as we move forward?

Part of a recent academic movement to respond to pressing current events, the #ImmigrationSyllabus follows the #TrumpSyllabus, which helped readers understand Donald Trump’s political success during the 2016 Presidential campaign; the #FergusonSyllabus, which inspired conversations about race, violence and activism in classrooms; and the#StandingRockSyllabus, which heightened awareness of the Dakota Access Pipeline and placed the #NoDAPL protests into historical context.

Biggest Culture Gaps Within Not Between Countries: Research

circlesofculture2017layeredlenses_1024

For nearly two decades we here at Cultural Detective have gone out of our way to teach people that culture is NOT limited to nationality, despite the fact that so many use the two words interchangeably. National boundaries are frequently rather arbitrary or externally imposed, and they can also change over time. Northern Italians are so different from southern Italians, and living in Mexico I can’t begin to tell you about the huge regional differences within this nation. Culture can be a valuable guide, but it can be sliced a slew of different ways. There is a huge bias, however, even in the intercultural field, to looking almost exclusively at national differences.

Two of the graphics we use to illustrate the multi-dimensionality of various cultural influences upon most of us are above. I even wrote a blog post in June 2014 entitled, We Are Not (Just) Our Nationality(ies).

A few months ago three researchers—Bradley Kirkman, Vas Taras, and Piers Steel—conducted a meta-analysis of 558 studies conducted over the last 35 years on work-related values. Their analysis included 32 countries across four fairly standard cultural dimensions:

  1. Individuals vs. groups
  2. Hierarchy and status in organizations
  3. Having as much certainty as possible at work
  4. Material wealth, assertiveness, and competition vs. societal welfare and harmony in relationships

The results were published in the Management International Review and, for those who don’t have a subscription, a summary is also available on the Harvard Business Review site. What were their results?

Over 80% of values differences occur within countries, and only 20% between countries! Thank you for helping us out, gentlemen! We MUST look at people as unique individuals with multiple cultural influences, not as stereotypical “Chinese” or “Americans.” That approach hollows us out and strips us of our richness—especially in today’s world, where so many of us are Blended Culture beings—multi-racial, global nomad, TCK/third-culture kids, etc. Cultural Detective helps us to look at ourselves and others in context and in our wholeness; it is the only intercultural development tool on the market today that does.

For those who do business globally, the most important takeaway is never to assume that people from a particular country embody the values typically associated with that country. Cultural stereotyping by country will likely lead to a whole host of mistakes when trying to lead and motivate a culturally diverse workforce.

The research team then went on to say, hey, if nationality isn’t a great indicator of culture, what is?

I have long said that, in my experience, occupational culture (e.g., research vs. marketing vs. finance; higher education vs. business vs. healthcare) is one of the best indicators of similarity internationally, along with organizational culture and urban/rural demographics. But hey, predictions aren’t my forte; 30 years ago I said sushi would never take off in the west, but robata-yaki (grilled skewered meat and veg) would. Oops.

Kirkman, Taras, and Steel looked at 17 possible cultural containers, to see how they rank in terms of pull: gender, age, generation, number of years of education, occupation, socio-economic status, and environmental characteristics such as civil and political freedom, economic freedom, GDP/capita, Human Development Index, Globalization Index, long-term unemployment, urbanization, income inequality (using the GINI coefficient), level of corruption, crime rate, and employment in agriculture. Interesting mix of containers, for sure.

Findings in their study showed that demographic groupings such as occupation and socio-economic status are high indicators of cultural similarity. People with similar socio-economic conditions and levels of education had more shared values than did those within nations. Quoting them, “Our data show that it makes much more sense to talk about cultures of professions, rich versus poor, free versus oppressed, than about cultures of countries.”

Obviously their work was limited to four work-related values, and didn’t include more general societal values such as equality or freedom. As the researchers concluded:

“For those who do business globally, the most important takeaway is never to assume that people from a particular country embody the values typically associated with that country. Cultural stereotyping by country will likely lead to a whole host of mistakes when trying lead and motivate a culturally diverse workforce.”

Log into your subscription to Cultural Detective Online now, and take the time to analyze an interaction from just a couple of these “containers” of culture. You’ll realize just how rich the system is, and why using it regularly can improve your intercultural competence.

Think One Person Can’t Do Much?

7f1f05543.jpg

Stroke order for capital letters in Adlam, photo from The Atlantic

How about two? This is the story of a childhood dream and lifelong passion and perseverance.

We start our story when two Guinean brothers—Abdoulaye and Ibrahima Barry—are 10 and 14 years old. They loved school, and were frustrated that their native language, Fulani, didn’t have its own writing system.

Fulani is a traditionally oral language spoken by about 40 million Fula people across western and central Africa. Like so many oral languages worldwide, people end up transcribing them using an existing script—they superimpose a foreign alphabet onto an existing oral language. This type of practice is rather imperialistic and it usually doesn’t work very well. Such was the case with Japanese, an oral language written in Chinese characters until Prince Shohtoku invented two indigenous syllabaries for the language—hiragana and katakana—in the tenth century. Today Japanese remains a complicated written system of four different scripts, if we include the Chinese kanji, the two kana syllabaries, and the Latin romaji to which it’s often transliterated.

a_distribution_map_of_fula_people_in_africa

Distribution map of major populations of the Fula people, Wikipedia

In the case of Fulani, it was usually written using Arabic script. But, just like romaji, or Latin characters in Japanese, there were no consistent rules, so reading was difficult. It meant that every Fulani reader had to learn Arabic in order to read and, to make matters worse, the Arabic letters didn’t capture the Fulani sounds. The Latin alphabet is even worse with Fulani pronunciation. According to Kaveh Waddell, author of the wonderfully written Adlam: The Alphabet that will Save a People from Disappearing, “Neither the Arabic nor the Latin alphabets could accurately spell Fulani words that require producing a ‘b’ or a ‘d’ sound while gulping in air, for example, so Fulani speakers had modified both alphabets with new symbols—often in inconsistent ways.”

The Barry brothers loved to draw, so they took it upon themselves to create a script for Fulani—and it only took the school boys six months! Their new alphabet spread quickly and came to be called “Adlam”—its first four letters. The script’s name is also an acronym for a phrase meaning, “the alphabet that will save a people from disappearing.”

Adlam is written right to left, and Fulani’s five vowels each have their own letters. “One of the things that’s really hindering progress in Africa and Guinea in particular,” Ibrahima told Waddell, “is we spend so many resources learning new languages even though we already have languages that we can use to develop our countries.”

The boys taught Adlam to friends and family, and had the inspired idea to ask each student to teach three others. They transcribed school books using the new script, and in junior high started teaching larger groups of people in markets and neighborhoods. Their father’s relative, an official in the local government, came to the house for a demonstration. He was impressed when he found that the boys could consistently, independently, and accurately transcribe one another’s speech from separate rooms.

In 1993, as a high school student, Abdoulaye, traveled to Conakry, Guinea’s capital city, and wrangled his way onto a popular radio show to promote the new script. “That’s how the whole country learned about Adlam,” Adboulaye said.

a1a500cbc

A group of students learn Adlam in Sierra Leone. Photo from The Atlantic

Many Fula people are nomadic, so the script spread quickly among traders and farmers—from Guinea to Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast. More and more books were converted to Adlam, but they were written by hand and copied by machine, a very cumbersome process. The process of propagating a new script wasn’t always easy; Ibrahima was imprisoned for a time after police officers raided his Adlam study group at university. Upon graduating, Ibrahima started a Fulani-language newspaper, also written by hand and photocopied.

New writing systems aren’t created all that often. The most widely used scripts in the world today—Latin, Chinese, Arabic, Devanagari, and Cyrillic—are all thousands of years old. In 1959, Hmong spiritual leader Shong Lue Yang created the 81-symbol Pahawh script, though RPA romanized characters are still very popular. The Cherokee syllabary is a success story: Sequoya created the script in 1821 and seven years later a Cherokee-language printing press published the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper. Cherokee was added to the Unicode standard in 1999; in 2003 Apple created a Cherokee keyboard; and Google has recently helped implement Android support for the alphabet.

To take Adlam to the next level, the Barry brothers figured they could skip the printing press and go directly to computers. They both ended up emigrating from the west coast of Africa to the west coast of the USA—to Portland, Oregon—pursuing their educations and working. They paid for the development of an Adlam keyboard and font. In 2008, they were thrilled to finally be able to type Adlam for the first time. However, because Adlam wasn’t yet supported by Unicode, readers had to have the font installed on their system.

Several years later, after Ibrahima presented at a type design conference in Colorado Springs, the brothers were introduced to Deborah Anderson, a linguistics researcher, who leads a program called the Script Encoding Initiative, at UC Berkeley. Along with Michael Everson, one of the co-authors of the Unicode Standard, the SEI has added more than 70 scripts to the Unicode standard since 2002! Kudos to these incredible Cultural Detectives!

SEI’s site tells us that over 100 scripts remain to be encoded, and asks for donations to support the effort. UNESCO, the USA National Endowment for the Humanities, and Google all support the Initiative. The effort includes historic scripts, such as expanding the set of supported Egyptian hieroglyphs, as well as focusing on scripts used by religious and linguistic minorities—to promote literacy and education in native languages.

Waddell tells us, “I asked Everson if any of the alphabet’s quirks presented challenges—the fact that it’s written right to left, for example, or the fact that the letters are connected to one another—but he said it was nothing new. What was new was that the script wasn’t yet set in stone. Mr. Barry had learnt calligraphy and was working really hard on optimizing stroke order. I was saying, ‘You have to stop tinkering with this.’ If he wanted this to be stable he needed to stop altering it.”

In 2014, at a meeting of the Unicode Technical Committee in Sunnyvale, California, yet another milestone was achieved—Adlam was approved. It was included in Unicode 9.0 which was published this past summer. However, you won’t yet find it on your cell phone; technology companies haven’t leapt on the Adlam bandwagon.

One hope is “Noto,” an enormous font family that aims to support 100% of the scripts in Unicode 9.0. Finding Adlam on your operating system won’t happen overnight, but hopefully it won’t be much longer. A second hope is that Fulani speakers have started creating their own apps: one to text in Adlam and the other to learn it.

Twenty years on, the Barry brothers are now 36 and 40 years old, and Adlam is taught in over ten countries. Ibrahima recently finished writing a book on Fulani grammar, and he plans to create a dictionary as well. Both brothers want to open more schools in Guinea and nearby countries that teach children in their native languages.

Martin Luther King, Jr., had passion, a dream, and perseverance. Gandhi had those three qualities as well. Fortunately for speakers of Fulani, so do Ibrahima and Abdoulaye Barry.

The original article in The Atlantic is much longer than my summary here; be sure to read it if this has piqued your interest. And be sure to log into your subscription to Cultural Detective Online now, to help define and preserve your culture!

Virtual Teamwork in Latin America

iceberg-report-cover

Our friends over at Iceberg in Buenos Aires have completed one of the first surveys I’ve seen on global virtual teams in Latin America. I’d like to congratulate them and thank them for this effort!

An astounding 88% of respondents to the survey confirm that the advantages of working in a global team outweigh the challenges! Their major reason? The diversity of perspectives, knowledge, and expertise among team members, which in their experience can generate innovative solutions and outstanding results.

Over 30% of the respondents reported spending more than half their work days interacting with colleagues around the globe; another 56% spend between 10-50% of their work days interacting with global clients. 68% of their global teams get together face-to-face at least once a year but, surprisingly, they prefer video conferences over live meetings! Even though respondents view video conferencing as their best coordination tool, only 32% of them use it in all their virtual meetings.

Survey results showed that diversity on these teams arose due to functional necessity, rather than because of its inherent benefits. Over half of those responding report their companies have lost opportunities due to cross-cultural misunderstandings. Despite this fact, only 21% of them report having received training to improve their virtual team’s productivity! Even sadder to me is that 53% of those who have received training did so in a webinar, 32% via e-learning, and only 16% had the opportunity to attend a face-to-face training or team-building session. Come on, Latin America! OJO! We’ve got work to do!

What did the respondents say is most complex about working in a global virtual team? First is including colleagues that don’t participate, then sending messages that are adequately understood, following up on what teammates are working on, and achieving agreements and decisions. 69% said the lack of co-location makes it more challenging to create trusting relationships, 68% said the distance makes it difficult to understand the context of colleagues’ communication, and 60% noted that distance can therefore generate conflict.

What qualities do they feel are most important for success on a global team? Communicating with clarity, adapting to cultural differences, and demonstrating a collaborative spirit.

Below is a visual that Iceberg created to summarize their findings.

14de6cbb-b9c1-4a0b-a1c1-93f3dd42d2c8.png

While there were only 86 respondents from four countries included in the survey, it is a good start. Respondents were representative of what we might expect in Latin America: 54% work for enterprises with fewer than 5000 employees, and 25% work for organizations with over 20,000 employees worldwide. 27% of the respondents were manager level, with 16% at director level. Most were from the IT industry, followed by consulting, education, and consumer products. The full Iceberg report (in Spanish) can be downloaded here.

Overall, the sample is fairly small and rather skewed, however it is useful for gathering ideas on how to make our virtual teams more effective, and some of the uniqueness we might find with teams and team members based in Latin America. If you work with global or virtual teams, be sure to check out Cultural Detective Global Teamwork, a powerful developmental competence tool that is included in every subscription to Cultural Detective Online.

 

Fascism, Democracy and Inclusion

cdfc-grad-5I am very pleased to share with you a guest post written by Taruni Falconer, Lead Facilitator of Cultural Detective Certified Facilitator Workshops, and co-author of Cultural Detective: New Zealand

“Fascism did not rise in the 1930’s because it was strong, but because democracy was weak!” These are the recent words of a political strategist in a news interview following the US elections. This declaration stopped me in my tracks.

I have the good fortune to live in relatively stable and prosperous democracy, Australia. I have also lived and worked in countries taking their first steps into democracy. In Yemen, l watched their precarious first, UN-supervised democratic election. In Tanzania, I listened to Julius Nyerere, father of unified Tanzania, make an impassioned plea to his people to act peacefully during the turmoil of Tanzania’s very first multiparty elections.

My life’s work as an intercultural educator has been built on the democratic principle of “better together than apart”, of finding ways to leverage and bridge differences, of responding to difference as a potent resource rather than a source of fear.

The political strategist’s statement about democracy has me reflecting on the rich range of tools I have for participating in my democracy. It has me realising the tools I have at the ready to understand the position of “the other” who represents different thinking. And there is no shortage of that!

I have been using Cultural Detective© as a primary training tool since 2003. I use it with my clients from Mumbai, India, to Wellington, New Zealand; from Singapore to Melbourne, Australia. It does not mean that I try to shoehorn it into every design I create, however, it is a reliable go-to resource. It’s a favourite tool in my toolbox, applicable in very diverse situations where training, facilitation, or coaching is concerned.

Right now, as I respond to the after-shocks of Brexit and the US election, I am also reaching for the simple Cultural Detective Method that applies three core questions:

  1. Who is doing and saying what here?
  2. Assuming they have a reason to respond in this way, what might that be?
  3. In what ways can we bridge this difference, this divide, and then take appropriate action?

Cultural Detective is a well-tested tool for taking effective action in these mutable, turbulent times.

These three questions at the heart of the Cultural Detective Method were taken up by two client organizations who joined together recently in Adelaide, South Australia, for a two-and-a-half-day Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification course. The workshop was hosted by Multicultural Aged Care, a group that has long been actively engaged in building intercultural competence for the aged-care workforce, and Scope Global, managers of international development and educational programs throughout Asia and the Pacific. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Both organisations were drawn to this in-depth course to learn more about the multiple applications and strengths of the Cultural Detective Method and materials. Over a three-day period, they shared intense, guided interaction, and gained many useful and practical insights:

“I really got that I need to adjust the type of bridge to the specific situation. I had thought of bridging as a major project like the built-for-hundreds-of-years Sydney Harbour type of bridge. Not true! Bridging can flex according to the situation and not all bridges need to be the permanent stone structures.”
—Agnieszka Chudecka, Multicultural Aged Care, South Australia

“Before doing this course I had understood that bridging could happen at the interpersonal level and not really considered the ways this could happen systemically as well. That’s changed. I get it. I now see multiple ways we can make simple low-cost systemic modifications that will facilitate bridging.”
—Ammeline Balanag, ScopeGlobal

I reach for Cultural Detective with confidence.  It’s safe. It works alongside other tools. It gives me a deliberate approach and process to understanding different viewpoints. It enables participation and the inclusive practice of democracy in our teams, in our organisations, and in our communities.

It continues to have my participatory vote and that of my clients.

On the Road with Migrants: Translation Help Needed

migrants-2-7123c.jpgThe Caritas game “On the Road with Migrants” is now available online in Italian and Greek, in addition to French, English and German. Please scroll down the following link for your free download:
http://www.secours-catholique.org/actualites/en-route-avec-les-migrants-un-jeu-a-telecharger

I am working on a translation to Spanish. Would LOVE your help! …. Please let us know if you are willing and able as we are putting together a team.

Thank you for helping us build respect, equity, inclusion and JUSTICE in our world!