Become a Certified Facilitator

Register now to learn to use Cultural Detective’s robust and personally customized online system to improve intercultural competence in your communities, organizations and teams—bridging the issues that polarize our societies and leveraging differences as assets.

We have two upcoming workshops, one in San Diego USA in October and the other in Vienna AUSTRIA in November. Proceeds from both events will support the respective SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research) organizations. You will leave the workshop with a developmentally-sound set of tools in your hands and the knowledge and skill to use them. You will form meaningful, long-lasting relationships with leading professionals. And, as a certified facilitator, you will receive a 10% discount when you license our printed materials, a listing on our website, and one-month access to Cultural Detective Online.

Below is the flyer from SIETAR Austria, and following that is a video from SIETAR USA:

CD Vienna 2017 p1CD Vienna 2017 p2

Click on the link to learn more or secure your seat now.

Rajel messouab ta hed ma y sed lou el bab. “All doors open to the person with good manners.”

morocco_purchWe are pleased to be publishing a wonderful addition to our series, Cultural Detective: Morocco. It’s perfect for those working with Moroccans, or wanting to do business in or relocate to Morocco. Perhaps, however, you are like me: you have seen tourist posters, watched Casablanca, eaten at Moroccan restaurants, and dreamed about visiting this seemingly exotic place. If so, then you will also enjoy wandering through our new package, even if you have no immediate plans to visit or do business in Morocco—at least not when you start reading the package!

One of the delightful things about Cultural Detective: Morocco is the feeling of almost participating in the culture that begins as you read the introduction. The oral tradition of Morocco is clear throughout the package, and the stories and examples show the hospitality and warmth of the people. To truly navigate successfully within Moroccan culture, you will need the advice of an inside perspective—a cultural informant—to help you develop and maintain the relationships and connections so necessary to doing business in this fascinating country. Cultural Detective: Morocco can provide you with that ongoing guidance, with ideas to save you from being unintentionally rude, and with suggestions that may help you communicate more comfortably and successfully with Moroccans. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Cultural Detective: Morocco has truly been a “labor of love,” coming to fruition due to the determination of two very dedicated professionals, Catherine Roignan and Youssef Zahid. Currently, one author lives in France and one in Morocco; both have a great deal of international experience, both have more than full-time jobs, and both have family responsibilities that take up every spare moment. In spite of these challenges, they wrote, revised, and wrote some more.

What is even more remarkable to me is that they wrote in French and then translated their work into English so I could read it. I made suggestions, did some editing, and then my suggestions were translated back into French for their consideration. (While the current version is in English, we will soon publish the French language version.) Of course, part of the authors’ discussion was also about Arabic words, as they explored the nuances of Moroccan culture and the particular choice of words used to describe it. This was a truly multilingual, multicultural creation process, weaving observations from inside and outside of the culture, and shifting worldviews as the authors worked to share the culture of Morocco with us.

One of the Moroccan values highlighted in the package is Daba baada (the present comes first): the only thing one can be sure of is today; one cannot know what tomorrow will be like, as things may change at any moment. We hope you will take the time today to explore this terrific new package, either via the PDF version or by viewing it as part of your subscription to Cultural Detective Online.

How Do Universities Develop Students’ Intercultural Competence?

543266_10150772354506354_665823583_nAnd why is Cultural Detective quickly becoming a preferred tool?

University of Southern California is the most international campus in the USA. The Marshall School of Business at USC recognizes the value of intercultural competence and is committed to truly developing it in their students.

They know that the mere experience of study abroad, or working in a multicultural team, does not build competence. Experience is not learning. Learning is the sense that we make of our experience. USC knows that research shows developing competence requires ongoing, structured reflection on the part of students—with faculty guidance. They have been using Cultural Detective for the past two years, in a growing variety of programs, because they realize the tool helps them accomplish their goals.

The video below is of Assistant Dean Gita Govahi, telling us why the Marshall School of Business has chosen Cultural Detective, and how they use it:

At Cultural Detective we are particularly impressed with something USC has done: they have students generate learning material for the following semester. For example, while students are abroad and after they return, they are required to upload stories of intercultural interaction from their own experience into Cultural Detective Online. They are also required to debrief those stories, to make sense from them. Each program and each semester, faculty award prizes for the “best of” these stories and debriefs, and honor the student-authors by using them in the pre-departure orientation for the next cadre of students.

This second video shows Professor Jolanta Aritz, giving her opinion as an instructor:

I often say that launching a book or a tool into the world is much like having a child: you nurture them to the best of your ability, and at some point you just have to pray that they do good in the world. Children become independent, with minds and lives of their own. Books and tools are used by people in ways we, the authors and creators, can not always control, despite our best efforts. It’s people like the talented professionals at USC who make us very, very proud of the tool we have created. They are putting it to excellent use and students are learning lifelong skills.

We know you all are doing some incredible things with our tools. Please, share your story and make sure we know about it!

So Proud of Our Customer!

MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray_DMicrosoft India has been a Cultural Detective customer for six years, and both Heather Robinson and I are so very proud of the abilities their staff members have developed to in turn coach and develop their support engineers’ customer service skills. The entire project has been amazing—truly a privilege to be a part of it! I’d like to take this opportunity to share a bit of their “Cultural Effective” story with you.

Microsoft uses Cultural Detective to coach their large enterprise customer support representatives. In the first six months using the tool, they told us they attributed a 30% increase in customer satisfaction to Cultural Detective! Now, five years later, they know Cultural Detective inside and out, and use the CD Method when interacting with both international and domestic customers.

In March of this year Heather again traveled to Bangalore to work with the trainers, to help improve their abilities to coach using Cultural Detective. The approach she used is what we call EPIC: Essential Practice for Intercultural Competence. It is a combination of Cultural Detective, with which Microsoft has been working for five years, and Personal Leadership, which their staff have been working with for the past year or so.

The design was an inspired one. Because Microsoft has experienced facilitators who are also well-versed in Cultural Detective, Heather used these facilitators to get team newcomers up to speed, as well as to facilitate small group breakout sessions. This internal group of facilitators put together the readings, sample interviews and assignments for the three-day training. As is so wonderful when training in India, there were plenty of games, activities and laughter.

As you might imagine, one of the main challenges for the support engineers is knowing how to respond to customers’ emotions. Large enterprises rely on Microsoft products to function in highly customized ways, which often means long days of problem-solving discussions, heightened emotions and frayed nerves. The March training included the learners acting out skits of engineer-customer interactions, videotaping them, and then using the Cultural Detective Worksheet to debrief the contrasting values, and the EPIC approach to discern how to respond most appropriately. We would love to share one or two of those videos with you here, but, of course, they are proprietary.

Instead, let me leave you with a few of the notes scribed in small groups. In case you’re wondering why “Kit Kats” and “Milky Ways,” the participants chose a candy bar and then broke into groups, one of ten techniques you can find in this blog post.

If you or your organization would like to be profiled in an upcoming blog post, we would be happy to talk with you about making that happen. Just let us know. Congratulations to all the Microsoft staff, who are so committed to building intercultural competence in their organization, and to you, the Cultural Detective community, for your efforts on this same journey.

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!

 

10th Anniversary of Cultural Detective!

Cultural Detective 10th Anniversary

Do you know that 2014 is Cultural Detective‘s 10th anniversary year? It’s also the 25th anniversary of my company—Nipporica Associates, and the 35th anniversary of my work in the intercultural field! Help us celebrate! Show our authors some love! Send us a greeting and win a one-year subscription to Cultural Detective Online.

The Cultural Detective Worksheet was born back in the early 1980s in Japan, emerging out of the need for a real-time multicultural conflict resolution tool. The Values Lenses came shortly thereafter—what are today termed “negative perceptions” were then called “the dark side,” echoing the Star Wars popularity of the day.

I used Cultural Detective tools in my proprietary work for about ten years with enormous success. Then, around 2002, Shell Oil began saying that Cultural Detective gave them the most highly rated global management training they’d ever experienced—from Nigeria to Malaysia, The Hague to Houston. They told us they wanted us to develop packages for every country in which they did business. While I envisioned nothing so ambitious, I did ask ten of my most esteemed colleagues to develop five “test packages”—Cultural Detectives England, Germany, Japan, Sweden and USA. They were so enthused about this Method and material that more and more admired colleagues asked if they could author packages. Today, the Cultural Detective series includes 65 packages (with several more to be released in the next few months) and an online subscription service.

Our vision was to provide theoretically sound, practical development tools, easy for the lay person to use, effective for beginners and experienced interculturalists, at accessible prices. Our goal was to help build respect, understanding, justice, collaboration and sustainability in this world of ours. Bless you for accompanying us on this journey thus far!

Thank you so much, to all our authors, our customers, certified facilitators, users, colleagues and friends! What a grand adventure it has been! Growing faster than we ever imagined possible, and building intercultural competence in areas we never dared dream of: spiritual communities, universities and study abroad programs, professional associations, NGOs, governments, and business. Over the last ten years, the Cultural Detective Method as been refined, deepened, and broadened—thanks to all of you!

A group of Cultural Detective authors will gather this month—February 2014—in Mazatlán, México to celebrate the project’s 10th anniversary. Other authors are planning events in their locations around the world to commemorate this auspicious occasion. We have started to receive greetings, and I thought you would enjoy seeing a few of them. I’ll post a selection below.

Would you like to get in on the action? Share your greetings? Thank our authoring team? Thank the person who first introduced you to CD? How about if we make it fun?!

10th ANNIVERSARY CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT
Share your greeting with us, and the authors of our favorite submissions will receive a complimentary ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Cultural Detective Online!

As you already know, Cultural Detective Online is a terrific personal development too. But what you may not know is that the user agreement allows you to project the contents for your students, trainees or coaches—as long as you tell them Cultural Detective Online is a publicly available tool to which they can subscribe, too. As a colleague told me yesterday,

“Why would any intercultural trainer NOT pay $150 for a TWO YEAR subscription to this tool? It gives me access to over 60 packages, allowing me to conduct such a breadth of quality training!”

How to enter? Record a video and upload it to YouTube, then send the url to ten@culturaldetective.com. Alternatively, you can send a photo greeting to that same address. Here’s the first photo we’ve received. It’s a good one, don’t you think? Many thanks to our partners at the International Educators Training Program, Queens University, Canada.

Allison10thCome on, join in the celebration! Your greeting can be as short as you like, funny or serious. We’d love to hear what Cultural Detective means to you, what difference it’s made for you, what impact it’s had on the field. Perhaps you can share a funny story of cross-cultural miscommunication, or share your success—a Cultural Defective or Cultural Effective! We can’t wait! If this series has meant something to you, please take a moment to let us know.

Send your entries by March 15th, 2014. We will contact the winners by email with instructions on how to redeem their prize of a full year’s access to all the content in CD Online, to use on their own or with their students. We can’t wait to receive your message!

Following are a few of the video greetings that we’ve already received, with a bit of background about each:

Microsoft uses Cultural Detective to coach their international support engineers. The first year they used it, they attributed a 30% increase in customer satisfaction directly to Cultural Detective. The Culture and Communication Program staff is truly inspiring. In the clip below, Shalini Thomas shares her greetings with the Cultural Detective community.

AFS, the international exchange organization with operations in more than 50 countries, has long used Cultural Detective with staff, volunteers, students, and host families. Nearly everywhere I travel, anywhere on our planet, there is almost always someone from AFS in the audience. We are thrilled to know that our leaders of tomorrow are developing intercultural competence through our partnership with AFS! I first met Hazar Yildirim in Istanbul, where he and the AFS contingent there gave me a very warm welcome. Now he’s based in New York. Here is what Hazar has to say:

The Intercultural Development Research Institute (IDRI) is committed to longer-term, sustained development of intercultural competence. Their motto is “coherent theory generates powerful practice.” Thus, it means a lot to me when the co-founder of that Institute, Milton Bennett, says Cultural Detective is a tool that truly translates theory into practice and carries on the heritage of the founders of the intercultural field. I met Milton back in 1982, at the Stanford Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC).

The last greeting I’ll share with you here comes from another customer, Atieh International, specialists in emerging and risky markets. “The world of today comes filled with new opportunities hidden in a sea of uncertainty and risk. It is our job to assist our clients to understand and be prepared for the tides and waves, the ebbs and flows in each market, to appreciate the beauty and depth of cultures and diversity and to build sustainable strategies founded on reliable intelligence and trust.” We are privileged to be associated with them. Managing Partner Pari Namazie shares her remarks, below.

Please block some time now to make or record your greeting and send it to us! We are looking forward to hearing from you, and we would especially love to share a gift subscription with you! Our authors work hard, not to pursue monetary wealth, but impassioned by a commitment to the vision of everybody having a voice, sharing their gifts, and realizing their potential. Let them know they have made a difference!

We will post the video greetings we receive to the playlist below. Take a look at those we have so far, including greetings from CIEE, Korn Ferry, and EDS. They are very heartening to watch! We look forward to hearing from you!

Another International Research Paper Supports the Cultural Detective Approach

Study coverBertelsmann Stiftung and Fondazione Cariplo Study*

Many of you ask us how you can make the case for and roll out a strategy for developing intercultural competence in your organizations and communities. Two of the world’s major philanthropic foundations, Germany’s Bertelsmann Stiftung and Italy’s Fondazione Cariplo (Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde), published a research and policy paper that may help a bit in this regard. The objectives of the study were to promote tolerance, integration and cultural dialogue within Europe and with non-European partners. The paper makes several key points that are important for Cultural Detectives to understand as we go about our work. They are points that underscore the value of the Cultural Detective® approach, namely:
  1. The danger of reifying culture. Cultures are not static entities but open, dynamic, complex systems.
  2. Intercultural competence requires a process orientation.
  3. Intercultural competence involves recognition of similarities as well as differences.
  4. Intercultural competence development processes must be the core of school curricula, revisited in different contexts repeatedly over time; they can not be appended as supplementary learning.

In this article I quote from the Bertelsmann-Cariplo study regarding each of these topics, and then make the link to the Cultural Detective approach. Let me begin, however, by quoting from the article on the need for intercultural competence in today’s world.

The Need for Intercultural Competence

“Given the process of pluralization that has resulted from internationalization, the ethnic, religious and cultural heterogeneity of our societies will increase, as will contacts between people of differing cultural values and norms. Thus, in the coming years, the ability to deal constructively on an interpersonal level with cultural diversity and a multitude of attitudes, values, norms, belief systems and ways of life will not only remain a key qualification required of business executives working in international settings; it will also be required generally of each individual as a key factor for contributing to social cohesion and reducing exclusion so that cultural diversity can be experienced positively.” (pp. 3-4)

1. The Danger of Reifying Culture

“By focusing on what was assumed to be an integrated, almost static whole of locality, group and culture … culture was considered (and is still considered by many) to be the way of life of a certain group of people in a specific setting, people who – because of their culture – consider themselves members of the same group and who – because of their culture – are different from other groups in other localities. This notion is often depicted as a global map with different discrete cultural groups, or as a mosaic, whose pieces are distinct individual cultures.

Since Ulf Hannerz (and others) formulated the ideas of “culture as flux” and the idea that cultures are open, dynamic and constantly changing ‘entities’ or ‘practices,’ many leading figures in social theory and cultural studies in the 1990s increasingly relinquished the viewpoint that culture can be understood as a closed and static, island-like entity. In addition internationalization and globalization processes have shown the previous notion – that locality, group and culture exist as one unit – to be false or oversimplifying.

The changed, process-oriented conception of culture as a dynamic entity therefore tries to accommodate the contradictions, the intermixing and the new diversity, which are based more on relationships than autonomy.” (pp. 5-6)

Link 1: Cultural Detective’s Approach to Culture as an Open and Complex System

There are several ways in which Cultural Detective helps users learn that a culture is not a static, definable entity, but a dynamic system. Each Cultural Detective package comes with a page entitled, “What is Culture?” The first words on the page are “culture is a complex …” Culture is said to affect how we do things, with further explanation that “common sense” is really a process of “cultural sense.” Readers are asked to think about central tendencies and patterns of a group of people, and that each individual is a composite of the influences of many cultures simultaneously (nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, spiritual tradition, sexual orientation, organizational culture, professional training).

The Cultural Detective Worksheet is an interactional analysis and planning tool, one that reinforces for the learner that the importance of culture is how it colors what we do, what we perceive, and how we want to proceed. Culture is not presented as some static, separate thing but as affecting individual people in real situations in complex but visible ways.

The Cultural Detective Values Lenses are positioned as a view of group norms or tendencies, a filter through which members of a culture are taught to view the world. The Lenses are used as clues: tools that may or may not prove helpful in unraveling the mystery of a given case study. Not all members of a culture will hold these values; in fact, some may have an almost allergic reaction to a society’s dominant values, even while recognizing the norm. It is also noteworthy that the same or similar values can provoke different or even contradictory behaviors, depending on the person and the context.

Thus, Cultural Detective, by its very nature, relates to cultures as open, dynamic and complex systems.

2. Intercultural Competence Requires a Process Orientation

““…This procedural understanding of culture as a dynamic flow and ongoing process of negotiation between norms, values and lifestyles only underlines the need for a conceptualization of intercultural competence which is in its turn able to take account of the changing nature of culture and the interactions it influences. Some existing models of intercultural competence, in fact, underscore the importance of a process-orientation.”

If the assumption is correct that culture is constantly in flux, then individuals must learn and master the ability to deal with ongoing processes. The development of intercultural competence is thus complex and multidimensional and, depending on the intercultural situation, can take on a variety of forms.” (pp. 6-7)

Link 2: Cultural Detective’s Process Approach to Intercultural Competence

The Cultural Detective Method is a process. It is to our knowledge one of (if not the only) intercultural competence tool available in the world today that is process-based. The approach looks at individuals in real situations, urging the learner to describe the facts of the situation, as would a good detective, filtering out biases and assumptions, and seeing what actually occurred or was said. The learner is then encouraged, at least temporarily, to set aside negative judgment and give benefit of the doubt. What could have been the possible positive intent underlying behavior in the situation? Once possible positive intentions have been formulated, the process asks the learner to discover or create methods in which the contributions of all involved can be most fully used. How might the people in the interaction behave, both to be fully themselves and to be cross-culturally effective? What steps could the organization or community take to encourage and reinforce intercultural competence?

One of the strengths of the Cultural Detective process is that it is not linear. Individuals or groups can jump around and between steps of the process, in a holistic manner, with powerful results.

We would like to caution that saying “culture is constantly in flux” can be as dangerous as the traditional boilerplate. Of course, everything is in flux; Heraclitus told us “you can’t step into the same river twice.” However, our questions can include what is changing, how fast, how much and where? We need to deal with the ongoing process, and we also need a standpoint from which to do this. Cultural Detective gives us exactly that.

3. Requisite Intercultural Competencies

“With regard to the definition [of intercultural competence], one may distinguish four dimensions, namely attitudes, comprehensive cultural knowledge and intercultural skills, an ability to reflect on intercultural issues as an internal outcome of intercultural competence [relativizing frames of reference and feeling empathy], and an ability to interact constructively as an external outcome of intercultural competence.

It is important to remember that the relevant cultural knowledge differs in each intercultural context and, as global knowledge, is potentially unlimited, i.e. too extensive to always be known in the intercultural context. Therefore, many experts attach much more importance to certain behavior related (conative) communication skills than to explicitly knowledge-related (cognitive) elements. According to the specialists, to the degree that comprehensive cultural knowledge cannot be definitively known, process-oriented skills on how to handle the situation grow in importance, skills that make it possible to acquire and process (explicit and implicit) knowledge about one’s own as well as foreign ways of life, cultural determinants and practices.”(pp. 7 and 9)

Link 3: Cultural Detective and the Requisite Competencies

The first two skills upon which Cultural Detective is premised “make it possible to acquire and process (explicit and implicit) knowledge about one’s own as well as foreign ways of life, cultural determinants and practices,” as described above. The first is Subjective Culture: knowing yourself, in context, as a product of personality and multiple cultural influences. Subjective Culture knowledge allows us to explain ourselves, what is important to us, and why we do what we do, to others. It also helps us to predict how we will respond in a given situation. Cultural Detective: Self Discovery is an entire package, approach, and tools for developing subjective culture understanding, and such understanding is developed and reinforced with every critical incident and Worksheet. When learners reflect on a critical incident and complete a CD Worksheet, they naturally reflect on their own values and behaviors: what they would do in a similar situation, how they would expect someone to behave, what would upset them? Analyzing incidents from diverse cultures and situations is an organic, intuitive way of getting to know ourselves, individually and as products of cultural influences.

The second Cultural Detective skill is Cultural Literacy: knowing others individually, in context, as a product of their personalities as well as the multiple cultural influences on them. Cultural Literacy helps us to understand others’ intentions and why we respond to them the way we do. It enables us to put culture “on the table” as a perspective to be used, rather than as something that we don’t recognize or talk about, but which reaches out to bite us when we least expect it. Every Cultural Detective package, critical incident and Values Lens helps the user to develop cultural literacy.

The third Cultural Detective skill goes farther than the Bertelsmann-Cariplo report. It is Cultural Bridge, the ability to leverage similarities and differences for interpersonal, organizational and community satisfaction, productivity and effectiveness. Cultural Bridges allow all parties to retain their authenticity, encourage all parties to develop intercultural competence. They involve processes, structures, and systems that sustain intercultural competence in the organization or community. Sustainable Cultural Bridges must be multi-directional; one-way Cultural Bridges may work in the short term, but are rarely if ever viable over the long term.

a. Specific attitudes (emotion), knowledge (cognition) and behaviors (conation)
One set of questions we are sometimes asked is, “Where does emotion fit within the Cultural Detective framework? By reporting facts and behaviors, are we to divorce ourselves from emotion?” On the contrary, emotions are crucial pieces of a Cultural Detective approach. Contemporary cognitive science is showing that what we consider emotion has cognitive content and vice versa. Evaluation and emotion are automatically present in nearly everything we do. The Cultural Detective Method helps the learner develop the capacity to see this, and the desire, as well as skills, to purposefully shift perspective in order to see a situation more thoroughly and accurately.

Heightened emotion can provide a “beeline” into the salient aspects of deep culture that make a difference in a situation. The things that most upset us are important clues to the underlying values and intent that drive perception and action.

Cognition and conation obviously come into play in the Cultural Detective Worksheet. The “Words and Actions” as well as the “Cultural Bridges” sections of the Worksheet involve behavior and conation. The Worksheet and the Values Lenses involve knowledge and cognition.

b. Internal “relativizing” of one’s frame of reference
The Cultural Detective process requires us to step into the perspective of other people, to shift our frames of reference. The Worksheet provides a visual illustration of such a shift of frame of reference. Each Values Lens, through its positive values and negative perception of those values, involves shifting perspective or frame of reference as well.

c. External performance, or constructive interaction
This final Bertelsmann-Cariplo skill is well represented in the Cultural Bridges portion of the Cultural Detective Worksheet, and is also the focus of the Cultural Detective: Bridging Cultures package.

4. Recognition of Similarities as well as Differences

“Perhaps the search for commonalities is as important in intercultural competence as the sensitivity and recognition of cultural differences that have been talked about so intensively in scientific, political and everyday-life discourses on intercultural competence during the last decades.” (page 13)

Link 4: Similarities, Differences, and Cultural Detective

As a process-based, interactional approach, Cultural Detective naturally encourages the learner to explore similarities as well as differences. When analyzing a critical incident using the Cultural Detective Worksheet, it may become apparent that multiple parties are motivated by similar or compatible values or desired outcomes. An effective Cultural Bridge may involve building upon this shared outlook or purpose, while also acknowledging and working with difference.

Values Lenses also encourage exploration of both similarities and differences. Whether we are discussing our Personal Values Lenses in an attempt to better collaborate, or comparing and contrasting national-culture Values Lenses, the ways in which we are similar and the ways in which we are different make themselves apparent.

5. Intercultural Competence Development Processes as Core of the Curriculum

”The multidimensional and process-oriented nature of the development of intercultural competence can hardly be appended as a supplementary learning module to existing school curricula. Instead, it is necessary to examine to what extent intercultural competence as an educational goal can be established in curricula as they are currently structured.” (page 10)

Link 5: Cultural Detective Process as Core

Herein lies one of the true beauties of the Cultural Detective toolset. Because it is a process, it can be used as a design backbone for nearly any type of curriculum, courseware, teambuilding, coaching, technology transfer, competence development program, mediation or conflict resolution, or merger and acquisition. Because it is so simple, it easily integrates with nearly any topic. It can be taught once, and the learner retains it, being able to use it again and again in different situations for ever deeper or broader learning, applying it both at home and at work, across disciplines, to continue developing knowledge of self, knowledge of others, and the ability to collaborate.

The key, as with any tool or important learning, is to integrate it as part of an ongoing spiral learning approach, revisiting and reusing it at periodic intervals in order to improve users’ facility with the tool and to deepen and broaden user ability and sophistication. A tool left on the shelf serves no purpose.Cultural Detective, as any tool or approach, is useful for certain purposes and not for others, and it can be used well or poorly. We trust your efforts towards intercultural competence will bear positive results.

*This is a reprint from a Cultural Detective Newsletter article originally published in June of 2010.

Join us in Warm Sun AND Accomplish a New Year’s Resolution

snowbeach

  • Are you tired of the cold, the ice, and the snow? Is it all getting to be too much, and you’d like a break? Are you longing for some warmth, sunshine, the beach, and vibrant Latin music?
  • Have you promised yourself that in 2014 you will spend more time on yourself, invest in your professional development, network with like-minded professionals, or expand your training/facilitation/coaching repertoire?
  • Do you realize that global and multicultural competence are requisites in today’s world, and you want to improve these vital skills and learn to help develop them in others?

You can accomplish all these things by joining us in Mazatlán Mexico in February, or in Atlanta Georgia in March for our Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Workshop! Early bird registration rates are available, so now is a good time to secure your seat in one of these workshops.

The Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Workshop receives high accolades from the most experienced interculturalists as well as from those with significant life experience but who are new to the intercultural field. Clients rave about the Cultural Detective Method and use it worldwide. Facilitators love having Cultural Detective in their toolkit. It helps them truly make a difference and secure repeat business from clients—ongoing coaching, training and consulting revenue—as clients commit to the continuing practice that developing true intercultural competence requires.

Many people do not realize that Cultural Detective is flexible enough to integrate nicely with existing training programs—adding depth and practical skills that learners can use immediately and build upon in the future. Participants easily remember the Cultural Detective Method, and can put it into practice when encountering a challenging situation—solving misunderstandings before they become problems!

“It is difficult to exaggerate how fundamentally important Cultural Detective has become for us. The difference between courses we conduct with and without CD is astounding.”
– Chief Academic Officer

“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. Thank you, Cultural Detective!
– Chief Learning and Development Officer

“Our customer satisfaction rates have increased 30% thanks to Cultural Detective.”
– Customer Support Manager

Click here for details on dates, locations and pricing, and click here for a detailed agenda of the workshop. Sound tempting? Get out of the cold AND spend time developing your effectiveness and employability! We’d be delighted to have you join us! Of course, if you are living somewhere warm, we’d gladly welcome you, too!

New Year’s Gift: Oldie but Goodie—The STADIApproach

Permission is granted to use this model freely and to circulate it, PROVIDED the © and url are maintained.

Permission is granted to use this model freely and to circulate it, PROVIDED the © and url are maintained.

It is said that experience is the best teacher. But learning does not lie in the experience itself; rather, it is our interpretation of the situation—the meaning we give to our experience—that provides our learning.

How might we better enable learners to constructively give meaning to their intercultural experiences? Are you looking for an easy and highly effective way to structure your next intercultural workshop or coaching session? Are you wondering how you might better enable study-abroad students to understand their experience in a way that builds cross-cultural competence? Do you have employees working internationally or multiculturally, and you’d like them to learn to truly harness the potential of diversity?

This “oldie but goodie,” the STADIApproach to Intercultural Learning, has been used in dozens of organizations worldwide with huge success. Click on the link to view a full article on the approach. I first published it for use with my proprietary clients in 1989; it is now even more useful as it can provide a design framework for blended learning approaches that leverage Cultural Detective Online. The CD Online system has STADI embedded into its core. In the hands of a skilled facilitator, teacher or coach, you can assist your learners to Sense, Think, Apply, Do and Integrate by analyzing the experience of others via the critical incidents in CD Online, as well as probing their own real life experiences.

We trust you’ll find the STADIApproach article helpful! Please accept it and use it as my new year’s gift to you, this January of 2014. It is my wish that the new year will enable all of you, dear readers, to better facilitate intercultural understanding, sustainability, respect and equity on this planet of ours.

Please share your experiences with us, and your designs that effectively leverage Cultural Detective Online to supplement your training, teaching or coaching endeavors.

 

Best Wishes for 2014

Happy-New-Year-2014-1-1Happy New Year! May 2014 bring you health, joy, love, and much success in your endeavors to build respect, understanding, and collaboration across cultures! We so appreciate you being part of the Cultural Detective community!

As we enter into the third year of this blog, I am quite proud of the quality—and the quantity—of what we have been able to provide. Are you curious about which posts were the most viewed in 2013?

  1. Our top post of 2013 was Research Findings: The Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace. A very powerful study of 367 employers in nine countries, commissioned by The British Council and conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and IPSOS Public Affairs, found that employers want to hire people with intercultural skills. The most frequently cited intercultural skills these employers desired were the ability to demonstrate respect for others, the ability to build trust across cultures, and the ability to work effectively in diverse teams. This was my first time creating an animated-drawing video, and I am pleased that it was republished widely. The British Council put narration to it and published it on their YouTube channel to help promote the original study, and we published a Spanish language version of the video as well. If you didn’t get a chance to read this important study or view the video summary, don’t miss it.
  2. Many of you work in virtual teams and across distances, so not surprisingly, our second most popular post of 2013 was 5 Top (Free & Easy) Virtual Collaboration Tools that You May Not (Yet) Be Using. These five virtual collaboration tools attracted broad readership, and in addition so did the summaries of important research on virtual, multicultural team development. I am hoping that by sharing such information we can heighten awareness of the need for cross-cultural skills, and promote understanding that development of these skills requires discipline and practice.
  3. Our third most popular post of the year was rather surprising to me: 10 Surefire Ways to Divide into Groups. This post gained traction and spread throughout the training and education communities, rather than staying purely within the intercultural space. Perhaps the popularity of this post shows that teachers and trainers are always looking for new-to-them creative techniques. Frankly, I have consulted the list a couple of times myself when designing workshops! It’s so easy to reinforce cross-cultural awareness—even in the ways we divide our learners into small groups.
  4. I am proud that the post on the Benchmark Statement on Intercultural Competence: AEA was among our top five for 2013. It is a terrific example of an organization committing itself to intercultural competence, developing a strategic plan, and investing in competence development over an extended period of time. If you have not read through the American Evaluation Association’s statement, I urge you to do so. As I said in the original post, some of their definitions are better than some of those provided by interculturalists!
  5. Rounding out our top-five blog posts of 2013 was a guest post by Joe Lurie, entitled Catalysts For Intercultural Conversations and Insights: Advertisements. Joe authored several of our most popular blog posts last year, all focused on food and eating. In 2013 his top post focused on print- and video-advertising and how to use them in a classroom environment to compare and contrast cultures. As always, Joe, thank you for your contributions to this community, and to building intercultural competence!

A big and very sincere THANK YOU to all our guest bloggers in 2013, and to those whose work we re-posted. And many thanks, also, to those who contributed comments and additional resources, either directly here on the blog, or via our pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Our community now numbers about 14,000 people, including 130 authors, 420 certified facilitators, a solid group of experienced customers, and an ever-growing group of users and collaborators. Together we can achieve our goals to develop intercultural respect, understanding and collaboration!

We welcome posts by those of you who wish to reach out to our community and aid us in developing intercultural competence in this world of ours. Please contact me about requirements and benefits.

If you are curious what the Cultural Detective project is all about, join us for one of our twice-monthly complimentary webinars. Subscribing to Cultural Detective Online or licensing our print materials does not require certification, but even the most experienced coaches, teachers and trainers rave about our Facilitator Certification Workshops. Sign up for one near you today!

Finally, we would also like to extend our sincere thanks and bring your attention to those who have most frequently referred new readers to this blog in 2013. These, of course, include social media, search engines (Google, Yahoo…), and content curation sites (Scoop.it, Paper.li, Clipboard) that I have not included in the list below. However, this top-15 list shows the broad diversity of contexts and applications for the Cultural Detective Method and materials:

  1. feel like you belong: sharing the life stories of immigrants, expatriates, and refugees to the United States
  2. Expat Everyday Support Center: we help expats connect to their worlds
  3. Zest n Zen/Anne Egros, Intercultural Executive Coach: Global Leadership, International Career, Expat Life, Intercultural Communication
  4. Jenny Ebermann: coach, trainer, speaker, consultant
  5. Slovensko drustvo evalvatorjev
  6. Worldwise: intercultural training and services
  7. KQED: public media for Northern California
  8. InCulture Parent: for parents raising little global citizens
  9. Vekantiebabbels.nl: voor het uitwisselen van je vakantieverhalen
  10. Southeast Schnitzel: interpreting German-American differences in the Tennessee Valley and beyond
  11. Intercultural Humanities Manchester
  12. The Intercultural Communication Center: its all about communication
  13. Global Minds: consultoría en Colombia
  14. Blogos: news and views on languages and technology
  15. ESL: language studies abroad

Thank you all for joining us in this grand endeavor! We hope to see you, dear readers, on this list next year. Let us know what is on your mind, and how this blog can you help further intercultural competence in your corner of the world! Happy New Year!