About krisbibler

Kris Bibler is the Director of Business Development for the Cultural Detective series and responsible for building and managing large client relationships. A USA citizen currently residing in Kansas City, she has lived abroad in Zurich, Switzerland. She is a graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and holds a Masters of International Management. Since graduation she has worked in sales/marketing roles for top organizations such as DHL Airways, Logistics Management, Inc. and Automatic Data Processing (ADP). After working in the United States domestic diversity training field for over a year, Kris began utilizing her 20 years of sales and marketing experience to launch the robust global business solutions in the Cultural Detective® intercultural training series to large organizations around the world. Her passion is to help organizations and their leaders to gain access to the rich intercultural learning that they need to exceed objectives and capitalize on the rapidly changing Global Workforce and the Global Economy.

Developing Intercultural Competence — Online?

“While other cultural databases do an effective job of providing country overviews, Cultural Detective Online offers unique and complementary capabilities.”
—Joseph K. Lunn, Project Portfolio Manager and Cross-Cultural Trainer, Zurich North America

What makes for a truly useful online learning tool? When I asked intercultural trainers this question they seemed to want to be able to emulate the face-to-face environment as much as possible. Keep the learners’ attention, make it experiential, real and applicable — and make them think! They don’t need “the answers,” they need to know how to come up with real solutions when they find themselves in the midst of cross-cultural conflict. Oh, and you know the old adage, keep it simple!

So, when developing the Cultural Detective Online tool, some key fundamental concepts were kept in mind:

  1. Personal/professional goal setting should be at the entrance to working with the tool — what are the learners’ objectives in using the tool? They should be able to adapt and change these but also keep them in mind in order to stay on track and achieve them.
  2. Culture-general and culture-specific content and process — this is fundamental to working with the Cultural Detective Method (read more by Janet Bennett on this topic if you are up on it), so no challenge here!
  3. Contextually based learning — also core to the Cultural Detective Methodology is working with real-world critical incidents and pushing the learner to develop an understanding of the underlying role and subtle nuances cultural values can play in everyone’s lives.
  4. Links between deep culture and surface culture, between values and behaviors — again innately a part of working with the Cultural Detective tools and richly impactful (where we get the big aha moments) once the learner discovers, develops and really hones this skill.
  5. Prompting for the learners to summarize and apply their learning to their real situations — this is where the work they’ve put in pays the learner back; in other words what’s the bottom line? How can I really use what I just learned to make a value added difference in my work, in my global team, with my international vendors/clients/offices, etc.?
So we’ve heard from some of our early adapters — Cultural Detective Online will take you further in your intercultural competence journey. Joseph Lunn of Zurich NA says,

“In addition to crisp, clear detailed summaries of each country’s cultural values, the nearly 400 cross-cultural incidents provided show users exactly what can go wrong when cultural understanding gaps exist. The tool follows-up by sharing the differences in cultural values that underlie each incident and offers concrete suggestions to build cultural bridges and avoid similar incidents. CD Online is a great hands-on teaching tool that adds value to:

    • Employees beginning overseas assignments
    • Global project team members
    • Mergers and acquisition partners
    • Outsourcing engagements

Thanks for making this tool available to those who need it at a reasonable cost!”

Developing intercultural competence online? Of course! Take a test drive and see for yourself: Cultural Detective Online!

Empower Leadership to Embrace and Leverage Differences

Your seminar was a beautiful illustration of the effect of the quality of cultural response in an executive’s decision process.  The interactive example was instructive and memorable—not a person in the room hadn’t been in situations precisely like those we experienced in the practical exercise. Yet, we had in this case an opportunity to “unpack” the experience and follow its likely conclusion. You fulfilled every expectation that I had for the seminar—my only regret is that we didn’t have more time!
—Turner White, Executive Professor Helzberg School of Management

What processes and tools do your executives have at their fingertips to make those “game changing” decisions that affect important employee groups? Does culture play into their decision-making process? How do they adapt when working across cultures when we know that common sense is really culturally based?

In business today we almost all concede culture—at a minimum—has an increasing impact on real-world outcomes and ultimately the bottom-line. So developing the key skills necessary to make culturally informed decisions can mean the difference between profitability and losing loyalty of high potential employees.

Wouldn’t it be nice to learn a simple process that once learned can increase your leadership’s effectiveness in working across all cultural lines – from gender, national, ethnic, industry, functional role to even sexual orientation differences? A process so uniquely rich that, once internalized, it can be used for elevating a leader’s communication and decision-making effectiveness on a global scale?

It’s Cultural Detective. And for a special collaborative event we’ve teamed with KMA to offer you a taste of our Methodology and their web-based training focused on the LGBT culture. This facilitated online learning event led by industry expert, Rita Wuebbeler, teaches the core Cultural Detective Method and unveils the LGBT shared values which often motivate behavior—allowing you to focus on the differences that make a difference and promote inclusion and productivity.

Register for this virtual event to be held December 6th from 10am-11:30am Central USA Time, and bring this unique set of cross-cultural tools to your leadership today!

Why Do Kids Study Abroad?

The allure of traveling to exotic places, learning about people, their language and how their lives were shaped differently than our own – these reasons and more attract students globally to explore the opportunities of living and studying abroad.

From my experience, living abroad as a young adult can be one of the first opportunities to see the world through a very different lens. The experience of trying to understand and communicate with a foreign language and adapt to a very different way of daily life can be both eye-opening and a shock to the system.

As an intercultural product development company we have had the unique opportunity to work with several organizations in the study abroad and student exchange industry. I’d like to point out two of them as organizations who not only facilitate the study abroad experience but also enrich the students’ opportunity to have powerfully positive study abroad learning experiences. Both CIEE and AFS International put significant effort into preparing students for their time abroad by teaching about the impact of culture, and how to interpret behavior by getting to what’s underneath – the values that are motivating the behavior.

Enjoy these two different but equally interesting case studies of how enhancing cultural understanding with a core process like Cultural Detective has been successful. I would love to hear your opinion and ideas that have worked for you in this field!

  • Business case for university exchange program by CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange)
  • Business case for high school exchange program by AFS USA

Fortune 500 Client Prepares to Support Global Clients

“We have achieved, for the first time in my five years working on the Learning and Development team, a 100% satisfaction rating from our learners. This is quite an achievement, considering that learners spent 12 hours over three days in the classroom. They typically are resistant to being in the classroom for more than two hours at any given time!”

Such feedback from one of our Fortune 500 Learning & Development Managers is so wonderful to hear and just as powerful is what led to these results — it is a great story to repeat. Take a read!

“Our initial plan was to offer strict localization training that would concentrate on such basic details about Australia as spelling, unique business terminology, time zones, and the fact that they use the metric system. We also planned to train basic Australian etiquette: the do’s and don’ts.

In my search for training that we could purchase and customize to our specific needs, I came across Cultural Detective and discovered that we could, using your materials and methodology, offer our learners much more than the basics. In fact, what I found in Cultural Detective was an approach to cross-cultural communication that would leverage and greatly enhance the communication skills that our team already puts to use every day to achieve shared understanding with our U.S. business-to-business customers.

Clearly, Cultural Detective was a natural fit for us—a fact that was driven home when I attended the FOLE (facilitated online learning event) sessions and saw a great example of how the training could be delivered online (something I very much appreciated, since most all of our training will be virtual by next year!). The FOLE sessions put all the pieces of the puzzle together for me and gave me plenty of ideas for conducting the training in a fun and engaging way.

After attending the FOLE sessions, I worked closely with an Australian SME who works on our Customer Services team. His willingness and enthusiasm to share his culture made adapting Cultural Detective to our purposes a real joy. As your methodology strongly suggests, having someone who grew up in the culture directly participate in the development process helped breathed life into the content, and it also added a level of credibility to the training that made it even more engaging and effective.

But what really made the Australian training effective was the fact that we prefaced it with your Self-Discovery course. Learners who may have been a bit skeptical about having to take part in a course on “culture,” when they typically receive “nuts-and-bolts” training on how to meet their customers’ technical and marketing needs, were plainly won over to the idea, at times in moving ways. Members of our team whom I have known and trained for a number of years, and who rarely participate in the classroom, shared powerful childhood stories that demonstrated their ability to connect the personal and the cultural in deep and meaningful ways.

The Self-Discovery course cleared the way for us to dig into the Australian Cultural Detective course and make what in some cases were startling discoveries. One such discovery emerged when my Australian SME, who was in the training session (not only because he is my SME, but because he will be part of this new Australian program), shared his cultural core values with the rest of the group, all of whom are native-born Americans. His values were not only quite different from the rest of the group, but they meshed perfectly with the Australian core values, once I revealed that lens to everyone. The impact on the class, including on my SME, was clear and immediate: they were startled by concrete evidence of fundamental cultural differences.

Because of this discovery, as well as their very personal engagement with their own cultural makeup, learners were able to engage with the Critical Incidents deeply, perceptively, and energetically. We were able to pull out and analyze many “clues” from the incidents, while having a lot of fun doing so!

The other discovery came when I was working with another trainer on my team whose focus was on our new client company’s marketing strategy and how it evolved over many years in Australia. When he shared his extensive research on that strategy, it was immediately clear that the Australian core values I was covering were at the heart of our client’s branding. Based on that finding, we were able to weave our courses together into a powerful and cohesive curriculum.

To ensure that the lessons learned in the classroom stick and continue to grow, our coaching team (who participated in both beta sessions and live training) are now making connections back to the Cultural Detective method, concepts, and terminology as they guide learners through the initial relationship-building process with our customers. And the anecdotal evidence of the overwhelming effectiveness of this coaching is pouring in already.

I have received kudos from my managers and the Vice President of Services for having chosen and successfully delivered the Cultural Detective training. But the kudos should really go to you and your company, Kris. Cultural Detective is a rock solid methodology.

Thanks again for all your help making this training possible. When we take our next step into the global market, we know who we will turn to for training solutions.”

When you take your next step into the global marketplace, who will you turn to?

Going Global: International Expansion Strategies

I recently had the opportunity to co-facilitate a Kansas City International Trade Council workshop focused on global expansion with Dianne Hofner Saphiere (via Skype from Mexico) and Janet Graham, who is currently a Baker University adjunct professor of International Business, Marketing, and Economics. We had a diverse group of business professionals, university professors, independent consultants and college students who actively participated in the workshop held at the beautiful Kauffman Foundation facilities.

Janet Graham brought a wealth of knowledge, discussing the various entry strategies when considering expanding globally. Some key decisions organizations must make in order to form a clear market entry strategy that she referenced include: which market to enter, when to enter the market and on what scale, and which entry mode to use? Great questions to which she provided some resources (such as globaltrade.net, globalEDGE, and WorldoMeters) to help direct the decision-making process. She quoted a local business leader from Hill’s Pet Foods who said the countries in which they have been most successful they’ve had a dedicated local distributor who markets and sells their products – and the relationship is key!

We then got to have fun bringing culture into the picture! Dianne pointed out that culture touches all parts of the strategy – communication, negotiation, competitiveness – and will ultimately affect how successful your business can be at expanding globally. I had the opportunity to showcase the Cultural Detective Method with the group by working through a global expansion incident involving a local specialty beer manufacturer exporting to Canada. We ended with an activity that tied the learning together by incorporating Values Lenses into developing strategies for expansion. The workshop was quick and to the point but brought together some true experts in the field and real world application of the Cultural Detective tools to meet local business needs.

The International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City was a gracious host and sponsor for the global expansion workshop – have you checked within your local community to partner with such organizations? It’s a great way to link the cross-cultural skill development to relevant community and business needs!

PTPI Americas Regional Meeting 2012

As I had just finished facilitating the PTPI (People to People International) workshop and entering the elevator with some PTPI attendees, I was pleased to hear a funny comment by one participant: “I am so glad this was about developing cross-cultural skills as I was afraid we might be participating in some sort of scavenger hunt!”

Well, it was in fact a hunt in some ways – we searched for clues about what motivates our friends and colleagues to behave the way they do and what motivates us to act and react the way we do!

Key learnings from group wrap up were described as:

  • Seek to understand others values and what’s really motivating their behavior
  • Look for similar values and use those to collaborate
  • Appreciate differences
  • Incorporate the strengths of all team members – there is no “right way” to get things done
  • Show up with an open mind

The PTPI Cultural Detective session was designed to help the PTPI  community members and their board of directors with strategies to improve their diverse recruiting – and it was received very positively with a quick post, “Incredible Presentation by Cultural Detective,” and the above photo from Liz Wegman, PTPI staff member. We had a group of about 35 PTPI leaders in attendance from all over the country and world who will return to their communities with fresh perspectives and strategies around building more diversity in their chapters.

Although diverse recruitment is not typically how I lead into discussions around working with the Cultural Detective tools, it certainly was an applicable organizational need which developing intercultural competence can help solve. Has PTPI’s unique application of the Cultural Detective approach spurred some ideas for you to assist your or your clients’ specific intercultural challenges?

People To People International Working with Cultural Detective to Diversify Chapter Recruitment

Over the past several years I have enjoyed developing a professional and personally meaningful relationship with the People to People International organization (PTPI). For those of you who are not familiar with PTPI, the organization was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 and is now run by his granddaughter, Mary Jean Eisenhower. Their mission is “to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.” They are a dynamic group of dedicated staff and thousands of volunteers in over 135 countries truly working to promote the benefit of people working and living cooperatively together throughout our world. They are known by their tagline, “Peace Through Understanding.

Last year in November Cultural Detective had the privilege of sponsoring and designing the student curriculum for the PTPI Global Youth Forum 2011 (GYF). We focused on designing curriculum that would readily engage about 130 students and GYF leaders and most importantly inspire them to explore building relationships outside of their perhaps “look and act like me” group of students and friends in their local communities. Based on the testimonials of both students and teachers, we feel we did a pretty good job!

This spring I’ve been asked to present the Cultural Detective Method to PTPI Board Members and the PTPI Community at Large so they can focus their attention on recruitment of diverse leaders and members. In the upcoming session I hope to show how generational differences as well as national cultural differences impact with whom we as individuals may naturally gravitate to, which can limit the growth opportunities possible by confidently reaching out to people of multiple cultures. Stay tuned for more about the event in a future post!

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast!

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast!” — a quote that grabbed me during a recent keynote address by BNI (Business Network International) founder and Chairman Dr. Ivan Misner. He was introducing his new book, Business Networking and Sex (Not What YouThink!).

Those (in the audience of more than 1000 Kansas Citians) with more exposure to culture-related topics probably guessed that the book focuses on networking techniques of the different genders and how to be successful networking with the opposite sex. But to hear so boldly from this networking icon how powerful culture truly is in relationship building and the networking process resonated strongly with this Cultural Detective!

When I heard this statement from Dr. Misner, I wished I could have jumped up on stage and displayed the Cultural Detective Women and Men Values Lenses. It would add to the value of his research by providing clear underpinnings as to what motivates the networking behaviors of men and women, and it would help explain the “whys” behind the stories illustrating their differences which seem to be highlighted throughout the book.

Dr. Misner’s book takes a three-pronged look at business networking across the sexes by offering a surveyed objective look at how men and women think about, approach, and in what ways they are successful at business networking. He then counters that with a “he said” (Frank) and “she said” (Hazel) analysis and interpretation of the survey results.

Over a four-year period they surveyed more than 12,000 businesspeople globally (covering every continent) on 25 questions about business networking. The results and interpreted analysis could bring about some interesting and revolutionary changes to the way in which each sex approaches networking with the other. Communication gaps could be narrowed and connections broadened through Hazel and Frank’s guidance and revealing a bit of the opposite sexes “Lens.”

My only wish was that Dr. Misner would have take the results of the survey to a deeper level by breaking it down to country-specific data. But then again, that’s where Cultural Detective national Values Lenses could shed some light!

NOTE: While the book reviewed in this post references two genders, and we offer an excellent package with this same approach, Cultural Detective Women and Men, there are other ways to look at gender than just a polar division of male/female. Cultural Detective LGBT examines some of these complexities of gender and sexual orientation.

Talent Development Huge Topic For Keeping Employees

It’s commonly known (but not necessarily budgeted for during economic downturns) that talent development serves many purposes. Successful organizations use talent development for employee attraction and retention as well as superior employee performances. Recently, in discussing how best one of our site license clients could leverage Cultural Detective in one of their employee networks, the client mentioned there is a big push for employee development again, now that the economy is coming back. Their focus is on keeping people by teaching the skills that support inclusive and collaborative teams.

Cultural Detective is a phenomenal tool for teaching both of these skills and applying them on a global, as well as domestic level. As Janet Bennett points out in her article, “Culture General or Cultural Specific? That is the Question!“, “Rare is the professional arena where we face colleagues from only one or two cultures. Instead, each of us operates with a wealth of cultural diversity that is rich, complex, and challenging. This reality suggests that learning a single specific culture serves us well, and learning about cultural difference in general serves us even better.”

So developing employees to operate effectively in an inclusive and collaborative environment can be accomplished by learning the core Cultural Detective Method which builds the skills of knowing oneself, understanding others and building cultural bridges. As Janet goes on to say, “Cultural Detective® provides both the necessary culture-general breadth of application across many cultures while developing the culture-specific depth. The Worksheet provides a unifying and consistent process for examining yourself and others, and for bridging differences as assets. CD develops intercultural competence by simultaneously improving culture-general and culture-specific expertise in a variety of realistic contexts. By examining key cultural similarities and differences in a culture-general way, we come to know ourselves, and are able to compare and contrast our own perspective with that of others. By focusing the Values Lens on a specific culture, we enhance our capacity to untangle problems, negotiate differences, and look below the surface within and across cultures.” And through this process we can understand how to be inclusive in our multicultural environments and collaborate with those we don’t necessarily share common experiences and work styles.

With feedback like I heard from our client it seems talent development is perhaps again ready to be supported both financially and in practice — let Cultural Detective be your tool-set for achieving an inclusive and collaborative workforce!

Global Success By Trial and Error?

The idea occurred to Dianne that a blog about “How to convince your boss to work with Cultural Detective” could spark some interesting conversation. Always in the mood for some good dialogue, I took the bait!

To those of us who live and breathe “developing cross-cultural competence,” it seems like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t appreciate a deeper understanding of the cultural values that are most likely driving your international clients’ decision-making process? Isn’t it logical that understanding what makes our global clients, vendors or colleagues “tick” would translate into improved relationships and ultimately more or better business?

We know, by evidence of the shear number of cross-cultural mishaps resulting in project failures, job loss, plant shut-downs, etc., that millions  of dollars are lost annually by culturally inept managers following a path of trial and error versus embarking on a path of structured learning to develop competence for working across cultures. But because those dollars are not directly traceable to a lack of cultural competence, the trial by error path to global success continues to lead organizations through a maze of cross-cultural dilemmas which ultimately may or may not end well for the organization.

If you’re seeking the most direct path to your global success, it makes both personal and organizational sense to prepare the way by learning a core process for developing global competence. In fact, there was a 2007 Accenture study that involved interviews with global managers, who reported a belief that adopting a cross-cultural communication training program could improve business productivity by 26%! Most importantly, their belief was supported by actual improvements in productivity of 30% reported by organizations who did implement cross-cultural training programs.

The bottom line is that by using the Cultural Detective Method you are far more prepared for any cross-cultural situation, so that ultimately you will be more productive and effective in your job and for your organization. Better prepared employees feel more successful and have much better job satisfaction. What boss wouldn’t want that for their employees?

Our clients report feedback such as the following:
  • 30% increase in global customer satisfaction, due to training technical support representatives with the Cultural Detective
  • Alleviation of the typical “low” resulting from culture shock that many expats feel, and shorter time-to-competence on assignment, due to providing pre-departure training that includes the Cultural Detective
  • The Cultural Detective tools allow the flexibility to meet emerging needs/respond to time-sensitive opportunities because they provide “just in time” effectiveness in a cost-effective manner.
  • Cultural Detective training results in “positive and creative resolutions that bridge value differences.”

As I think more closely about this question, “How to convince your boss to work with Cultural Detective tools,” the answer clearly lies in the Cultural Detective Method and the Value Lens tools themselves! What does your boss value? And what does his/her boss value? Leverage whats important to them and put their values to work for you!

So, what do you think? How would you convince your boss? Let us hear from you!