Ecotonos is a great tool!

We would like to thank Nicole Martin of the Rocky Mountain Institute for this guest blog post about her work with a team from聽SEED: Sustainable Energy for Economic Development聽. We are honored and privileged to know our materials aid work of this kind!

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I just wanted to pass on some feedback. My group of 17 really enjoyed running Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures and identified it as a highlight of our day. Team members from SEED drew some valuable insights and connections to their real life work from it.

Since I had not seen Ecotonos run before, it is a credit to the materials that it went so well. I followed the directions and it worked! I really appreciated the clear and complete instructions.

I also wanted to share a tweak that I made. In the acculturation section, I had them create visual identifiers for their groups using craft materials. It helped them acculturate and get talking and moving.

Of course, my creative facilitation idea was sparked by forgetting the buttons back at the office 馃檪聽Here is a picture of a debrief. You can see the watch necklace (monochronic time group) and the mobius strip hat (polychronic time group) on the left side.

Thanks for the great tool!

To learn more about Ecotonos or to purchase the game, which you’ll be able to use for years to come and replay differently with the same group multiple times, click here.

Virtual Teamwork in Latin America

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Our friends over at Iceberg聽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聽around the globe; another 56% spend聽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聽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聽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聽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聽created to summarize their findings.

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While there were only 86 respondents from four countries included in聽the survey, it is a good start.聽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.聽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.

 

Ecotonos: Simulaci贸n Intercultural en una Clase de Negociaci贸n en Colombia

Sixth semester students (juniors) David, Lina, Gabriela and Ximena helped facilitate the simulation

Sixth semester students (juniors) David, Lina, Gabriela y Ximena helped facilitate the simulation

Ecotonos: An Intercultural Simulation in a Negotiation Class in Colombia

La Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogot谩, Colombia, recently utilized Ecotonos: A Simulation for Collaborating Across Cultures for the third time in its International Negotiation class.聽The professor, Fernando Parrado, gave four of his experienced students the opportunity to act as co-facilitators, and they learned so much from the experience. Below is their report.

Translation to English by Dianne Hofner Saphiere follows the Spanish original.

AGUILAS

Las 脕guilas estaban conformadas por un grupo total de diez estudiantes, por lo que en primera estancia se repartieron las fichas de valores a cada uno de los integrantes. Los valores e acciones de las 脕guilas eran:

  • T煤 crees que es grosero expresar tu propia opini贸n demasiado fuerte. T煤 prefieres preguntar la opini贸n de los otros antes de afirmar la tuya y frecuentemente ilustras con ejemplos los puntos que los dem谩s han dado.
  • Cuando una persona te dice algo que t煤 has escuchado antes, t煤 aplaudes. Miras sobre la cabeza de las personas cuando deseas demostrarles que estas en desacuerdo.
  • Para entender completamente que est谩 diciendo alguien, t煤 interrumpes, aclaras y resumes.
  • T煤 crees que todo se mueve a su propio ritmo y que el tiempo es artificial. No te das prisa con las decisiones o tareas sino que prefieres que esta se desenvuelva. Los relojes o tiempos de referencia te hacen sentir inc贸modo.
  • En discusiones tu estas m谩s c贸modo parado o sentado al menos a un brazo de distancia de las otras personas. El contacto f铆sico es extremadamente inc贸modo para ti.

Despu茅s de entendidos y discutidos los comportamientos a seguir por las 脕guilas, se realiza la creaci贸n del mito por parte de todo el grupo. Los miembros fueron muy creativos y relacionaron los valores con el nombre del grupo (las 脕guilas), determinando as铆 que se hab铆an independizado hace poco tiempo, y que adem谩s su Dios era el 谩guila, lo que determinaba su necesidad de espacio, no contacto f铆sico, y comportamiento sumiso ante la opini贸n de los dem谩s.

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Posteriormente se inici贸 la construcci贸n de los puentes. Los miembros decidieron recurrir a otros recursos, adem谩s de los ya otorgados por los facilitadores, como sus sacos.

Luego se realiz贸 la mezcla de los participantes. Las 脕guilas fueron determinadas a ser un Joint Venture, por lo que cinco participantes del grupo de los Zantes se unieron a las 脕guilas, de la misma manera que cinco integrantes se fueron a los Delfines y a los Zantes. Dado as铆 el grupo quedo conformado por cinco 脕guilas y cinco Zantes. La cultura de los Zantes era absolutamente opuesta por lo que la continuaci贸n del puente fue un reto, mas sin embargo a pesar de las diferencias, todos participaron activamente y sacaron adelante el proyecto.

A continuaci贸n se realiz贸 la presentaci贸n del mito por parte de uno de los participantes, y luego se realiz贸 la retroalimentaci贸n de la cual el grupo tuvo las siguientes conclusiones:

Los elementos que ayudaron tener mayor efectividad y colaboraci贸n entre las dos culturas:

  • Ambas culturas saben escuchar.
  • Ambas culturas trabajan en grupo con un fin com煤n.
  • A pesar de la diferencia cultural, hab铆a tolerancia lo que no genero conflictos, por lo que el trabajo en equipo fue flexible.

Los elementos que impidieron tener mayor efectividad y colaboraci贸n entre las dos culturas:

  • La cultura de las 脕guilas era muy flexible al tiempo, por lo cual el tiempo no fue aprovechado de manera efectiva. 鈥淓l tiempo vale oro鈥.
  • La diferencia y falta de conocimiento del lenguaje verbal y corporal de cada una de las otras culturas
  • La diferencia en la afectividad y contacto f铆sico por parte de cada una de las culturas

Las 脕guilas plantearon tres estrategias que hubieran ayudado a los grupos a entenderse mejor y utilizar las habilidades de cada uno de los miembros fueron:

  • Tener un contacto previo con la otra cultura, para entender y comprender los diferentes comportamientos.
  • Reemplazar el lenguaje corporal por lenguaje verbal, para lograr un mayor entendimiento.
  • Tener clara la tarea a realizar para poder planificar y realizar de manera correcta.
  • Implementar la divisi贸n del trabajo.

Por 煤ltimo el grupo realizo el siguiente mapa de procesos para evidenciar el proceso vivido.

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DELFINES

La personalidad de los Delfines los describe como una cultura apartada que no les gusta tener contacto con otras culturas, aparte de esto siempre quieren tener siempre la raz贸n motivo por el cual cuando van a comunicarse con otros es m谩s dif铆cil llegar a un acuerdo, en el trabajo se evidencio cuando hubo cambios de culturas que era complicado llegar a aportar algo a esta cultura.

Los Delfines estaban armando su puente, todos los integrantes ten铆an un cargo y as铆 fueron armando su puente, todos se entend铆an bien y cuando no estaban de acuerdo lo hablaban y r谩pidamente llegaban a un acuerdo para beneficiarse todos, entre la cultura nunca hubo un problema o discusiones por las decisiones tomadas.

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Cuando las dos 脕guilas intervinieron este grupo para continuar armando el puente pero como hab铆a mayor铆a de Delfines se evidencio que las 脕guilas quedaron de lado discriminadas, ya que los Delfines no les gusta tener interacci贸n con otras culturas, es claro que cuando hay una mayor铆a vs minor铆a siempre la mayor铆a va a tomar las decisiones y la minor铆a va a tener que adaptarse a estas decisiones.

En el momento en el que a los grupos se les puso a mirar las fortalezas y debilidades de la interacci贸n con otras culturas los Delfines se dieron cuenta que las fortalezas que esto trajo para armar el puente fue que tanto las 脕guilas como los Delfines ten铆an un tiempo flexible el cual hizo que ninguno tuviera un choque ah铆, tambi茅n los Delfines debieron reconocer el trabajo de otra cultura que quiso intervenir para ayudarlos y por ultimo tuvieron que tener respeto y tolerancia hacia las 脕guilas, no hay mejor comunicaci贸n que saber hablar pero m谩s importante es saber escuchar.

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Las debilidades que los Delfines encontraron al interactuar con las dos 脕guilas que llegaron al grupo fue que hab铆a falta de comunicaci贸n ya que las dos culturas se comunicaban de forma diferente, adem谩s se notaba un impedimento entre las dos culturas ya que la distancia era muy notable. Sin embargo, pudieron armar el puente y al finalizar el logro fue compartido entre 脕guilas y Delfines.

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ZANTES

En el juego de simulaci贸n intercultural el grupo tres era el grupo de los Zantes, el cual estaba conformado por diez integrantes.

La primera actividad que se realizo fue escoger algunas cartas de reglas culturales y con estas se cre贸 una nueva cultura con las acciones dados, para ello ten铆an que crear un mito explicando c贸mo naci贸 la cultura. Las que escogimos fueron las de color naranja las cuales representan los gestos y el contacto con los ojos (hacer sonar nuestros dedos y mirar fijamente), azul clara que eran los estilos de escucha (sab铆an escuchar y hablan cuando el otro terminaba), el color rosado representa contacto (se caracterizaban los Zantes porque les gustaba el contacto con los dem谩s), realizaban gestos mientras hablan para ayudar a los otros a entender, y por ultimo estaba la carta beige que era la orientaci贸n al tiempo (eran muy rigurosos con el tiempo, para ellos este val铆a oro). En el desarrollo de esta primera actividad se pudo notar que dentro del grupo hab铆a integrantes con personalidades muy distintas, ya que algunos estaban muy concentrados en el juego y muy participativos, mientras que otros miembros del grupo solo estaban escuchando y no aportaban ideas sino al contrario hacen lo que otros compa帽eros dec铆an. Con el tiempo todos los integrantes empezaron a practicar sus caracter铆sticas culturales respectivas y finalmente para esta actividad trabajaron muy bien porque todos se familiarizaron con sus valores (que eran iguales) por lo cual no existi贸 ning煤n conflicto.

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La segunda actividad que se realizo fue la de crear un puente con unos materiales que los monitores suministramos al grupo, el puente deb铆a ser innovador y confortable. Al comenzar el puente el grupo trabajo muy bien ya que todos se escuchaban y trabajaban efectivamente para poder realizar un buen trabajo, a cada instante se percib铆an los valores del grupo porque constantemente los estaban practicando y utilizando para realizar su trabajo. Cuando ya ten铆an la mitad del puente el grupo fue dividido y a los Zantes llegaron integrantes de los Delfines y de las 脕guilas, con los cuales se pudo evidenciar el impacto cultural de estos nuevos integrantes ya que ten铆an caracter铆sticas totalmente distintas, algunos llegaron a ser ofensivos, aplaud铆an constantemente, no les gustaba el contacto, todos ten铆an sus caracter铆sticas culturales muy marcadas y distintas lo cual produjo que se crearan conflictos. Cuando los miembros de los Delfines y de las 脕guilas intervinieron en la creaci贸n del puente se pudo notar que en un principio cambiaron dr谩sticamente la estructura del puente, construyeron algo totalmente distinto a lo que hab铆an realizado los Zantes, pero con el tiempo esta estructura se volv铆a a acoplar un poco a lo que fue la de los Zantes y el grupo multicultural pudo crear un excelente puente. Los jugadores pudieron comprender el impacto que la cultura tiene en cada una de sus vidas.

Los juegos anteriores permitieron comprender al grupo el impacto que tiene la cultura, por esto es indispensable que a la hora de negociar se conozca y adem谩s se entienda la cultura con la que se va a negociar para tener la capacidad de resolver problemas y para trabajar de manera efectiva. Y finalmente la conclusi贸n m谩s importante es que hay que aprender a manejar nuestras conductas y valores a la hora de negociar con personas que tengan diferencias culturales.

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CONCLUSI脫N

En conclusi贸n esta actividad a los 4 monitores fue muy productiva. Entendimos las diferencias culturales con unas simples actividades que nos dan un ejemplo de c贸mo serian una negociaci贸n o trabajo en equipo con miembros de otros pa铆ses, nos ense帽o como escuchar y ser de mente abierta siempre para la negociaci贸n aprender lo mejor del otro y siempre respetar a los dem谩s.

AGUILAS

The Aguilas were a group of ten students, each given rule cards. The values and actions on the Aguila cards were:

  • You believe it is rude to express your opinions too strongly. You prefer to question others鈥 opinions before sharing your own, and you frequently affirm the points others have made by offering examples.
  • When someone tells you something you鈥檝e heard before, you clap. You look above the person鈥檚 head when you wish to demonstrate disagreement.
  • To understand more fully what someone is saying, you interrupt, clarify and summarize.
  • You believe that things move according to their own rhythm, and that time is artificial. You don鈥檛 hurry decisions or tasks and rather prefer that they unfold. Clocks and references to time make you uncomfortable.
  • In discussions you are more comfortable standing or sitting at least an arm鈥檚 length away from others. Physical contact is extremely uncomfortable for you.

After discussing and understanding the behaviors to follow, the Aguilas created their myth. The members were very creative and related their values with the name of the group, determining that they became independent fairly recently, and that their god was the eagle, which determined their need for space, no physical contact, and submissiveness to the opinions of others.

Next they began the construction of the bridge. The members decided to use other resources in addition to those provided by the facilitators.

After building for a while, participants were mixed. Five Aguilas left to join the Delfins and the Zantes. The remaining Aguilas were joined by five Zante participants, forming a Joint Venture group of five Zanteans and five Aguilas. The culture of the Zantes was absolutely opposite to that of the Aguilas, so the joint bridge building was quite a challenge. Despite the differences, however, everyone participated actively and took the project forward.

Upon concluding the simulation the participants presented their creation myth, and then conducted a debriefing discussion that聽led to the following conclusions:

The elements that helped the mixed group of two cultures to be more effective and collaborative were:

  • Each culture鈥檚 members knew how to listen.
  • Members of both cultures worked in groups to a common purpose.
  • Despite the cultural differences, there was tolerance, and participants did not generate conflict, so the group work was flexible.

The elements that impeded effectiveness and collaboration between the two cultures were:

  • The Aguila culture was very flexible with time, which meant that time was not used in an effective manner. 鈥淭ime is gold.鈥
  • Differences in and lack of knowledge of verbal and body language of the different culture
  • Difference in affection and physical contact in each of the cultures

Group members came up with three strategies that would have helped them understand each other better and utilize the abilities of each of the members of the mixed culture:

  • Have previous contact with the other culture, in order to understand the different behaviors.
  • Replace body language with verbal language, in order to have better understanding.
  • Keep the task clearly in mind in order to plan and perform it correctly.
  • Implement a division of labor.

Finally, the group created the following process map illustrating the process they experienced:

DELFINUS

The personality of the Delfins can be described as that of a secluded culture that doesn鈥檛 like to have contact with other cultures. Apart from this, they always want to be right when they communicate with others, making it difficult to come to an agreement. This was evident in the work: when there was a change of cultures it was difficult to contribute anything to this culture.

The Delfins were assembling their bridge, all聽of its members had their job and were working to build the bridge, and everyone understood each other well. When they disagreed they spoke and quickly reached an agreement that would benefit everyone. Within the culture there was not a problem or discussion of the decisions made.

When the two Aguilas joined the group to continue assembling the bridge, since there were a majority of Delfins, you could see the Aguilas were a bit left out and discriminated against, as Delfins don鈥檛 like to interact with other cultures. It was clear that with the majority and minority in this group, the majority made decisions and the minority had to adapt itself to those decisions.

When the group members reflected on their strengths and weaknesses interacting with other cultures, the Delfins realized that the strengths for building the bridge included that both the Aguilas and the Delfins had a flexible sense of time, so there was no problem there. Also, the Delfins needed to acknowledge the work of the other culture, to have respect and tolerance for the Aguilas and realize that they wanted to help, that there is no better way to communicate than to know how to speak but even more to know how to listen.

The weaknesses that the Delfins encountered when interacting with the two Aguilas who arrived to the group were that there was a lack of communication due to the fact that the two cultures communicated in a different form, in addition another impediment between the two cultures was that the distance was very notable. Nevertheless, they were able to build the bridge and the accomplishment was shared between the Aguilas and the Delfins.

ZANTES

In the intercultural simulation, the third group was the Zantes, composed of ten members.

The first activity was to choose cultural rule cards to create a new culture with the actions described on them. In order to do that, the members needed to use the rules to author a myth about how the culture was born. The rules chosen included the orange color鈥攇estures and eye contact (snap one鈥檚 fingers and stare), light blue 鈥 listening style (listen closely and speak only when the other has finished), pink鈥攔epresenting touch (this characterized the Zantes because they loved touching others), gesticulating while talking in order to help others understand, and the last was the beige card鈥攖ime orientation (very rigorous with time, as time is golden). During this first activity it was noteworthy that there were members of the group with very distinct personalities. Some concentrated on the game and were very participatory, others in the group were only listening and rather than contribute ideas they did what the others said. With time the group members began practicing their cultural characteristics and finally they worked together very well, because everyone was familiar with their values (they were all equal) and there was no conflict.

The second activity the group realized was to create a bridge with some materials that the facilitators gave the group. The bridge needed to be innovative and aesthetically pleasing. When beginning the bridge the group worked very well together; everyone listened to one another and they worked effectively to complete the work. At each moment one could perceive the values of the group because they were constantly practicing and utilizing them during their work. When they already had half the bridge built, the group was divided and some Delfins and Aguilas joined the Zantes. At this point the cultural impact was evident; some arrived offensively鈥攖hey clapped constantly, they didn鈥檛 like touching others鈥攅veryone had cultural characteristics that were very marked and distinct and that created conflicts. When the members of the Delfins and the Aguilas joined the creation of the bridge, it was noted that at one point the structure of the bridge changed drastically; they constructed something completely distinct from what the Zantes had originally been building. However, with time the structure returned to something similar to what the Zantes had intended, and the multicultural group was able to create an excellent bridge. The players were able to understand the impact that culture has on each of their lives.

The simulation permitted group members to understand the impact of culture, and that it is indispensable to recognize and understand culture when negotiating, in order to be able to resolve problems and work in an effective manner. Finally, the most important conclusion is that we need to learn to manage our conduct and values when negotiating with people who are culturally different from us.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, this activity was very productive for the four of us as co-facilitators. We understood cultural differences with these simple activities. It provided us an example of how a negotiation or teamwork could be with people from other countries. It taught us how to listen and to maintain an open mind during negotiations, to learn the best of the other and to always respect others.

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us, students! Any of our readers who are interested in Ecotonos, you can find more information or order the simulation by clicking here.

Global Teams in Theory and in Practice

Global-TeamGuest post by Vicki Flier Hudson

I once heard a Zen Buddhist monk say that the definition of suffering is the gap between what is and what we think should be. The wider that gap, the more we experience stress. Today’s global virtual team, without the right tools, might end up spending a lot of time in that gap. Most teams want to becoming high-performing units with all individuals feeling valued, all cultures being respected, and all tasks getting completed on time. The reality can look quite different, however. In today’s taxing environment, many teams find themselves reacting to fires, completing their tasks but without the benefit of time for intentional reflection or action.

As an intercultural practitioner I’ve had the privilege of working with a variety of global teams in industries from manufacturing to finance. Many of them display similar characteristics. They are often comprised of talented individuals who appreciate cultural diversity and want to collaborate effectively. But why do few teams achieve that vision? What causes the gap between that desire to collaborate and the reality of division or confusion?

So many factors play into the health of a global team, some of which defy explanation 鈥 call it chemistry, dynamics, or magic. Some of the factors, however, are more visible. For example, I see many teams become misaligned because they do not have proper communication protocols in place. They make false assumptions about shared understanding of terms or processes which can delay projects. Cultural differences also play a significant role in the effectiveness of global teams. Team members might run into disparate cultural approaches to a project, and rather than observe the problem objectively they immediately begin jumping to conclusions and/or negative evaluations. This premature leap can cause them to chase down incorrect solutions and again delay the project. Also, the team may not take full advantage of the diverse perspectives and resources that the members provide.

How do we close this gap between the theory of a collaborative team and the practice of one? First, a global team must realize that intercultural competence is a learned skill, in some ways like welding or computer programming. Cross-cultural skills may be harder to acquire or measure, but they must be studied and practiced. Cultural Detective Online is an incredible tool for global teams to unite around and hone their intercultural proficiency.

CD Online makes it possible, for example, for teams represented in fifteen countries to come together in a virtual training room and explore several important aspects of collaboration. First, they learn to separate objective facts from their perceptions of situations. That skill alone can increase team trust dramatically. Then they learn through what lenses their colleagues might be looking, and how those values impact the outcome of a business problem. Imagine eighteen members of a global team, all online and on the phone, working through a CD Online scenario together that illuminates the values of cultures they work with every day. Everyone gets to contribute and they physically practice those vital cross-cultural skills right there in the training.

I feel a great sense of excitement about what Cultural Detective Online does to increase the effectiveness of global teams, and not just in theory. Join me and the Cultural Detective team as I walk through a case study of a virtual training designed for a global team using CD Online. This event is free and will take place April 9, 2013. To learn more about this event click here, or to register please click here.

Global teams have amazing potential. What tools have you used to get your global team to high-performance?

Vicki Flier Hudson, speaker and Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, inspires people to live, work, and build teams across cultures. She has helped countless large-sized corporations establish successful operations between the United States and India or Europe. Vicki is a certified administrator of聽the Cultural Detective methodology and the聽Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). She has been featured on NBC News, and many of her articles have been published in a variety of magazines.