I recently had the chance to use EPIC (Essential Practice for Intercultural Competence) for the first time with a group of people who train student leaders in a university setting. There were several surprises along the way… all of them good!
- Reasonably quick prep to put together a quality training event—The structure of the EPIC process, which brings together both Cultural Detectiveand Personal Leadership methods,made it possible to plan a quality training event in a short amount of time. It saved me hours of work and was a breeze to facilitate!
- It was helpful to have the EPIC experience to look back on when going over IDI results after the training—This particular group had asked each member to take the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) prior to the EPIC training. As I met with individuals to go over their IDI results following the training, I found that having the common EPIC experience to look back on provided many concrete examples that I could use to illustrated ideas that are sometimes difficult for people to grasp. Concepts like the limitations of Minimization and the value of working towards Acceptance were far easier to explain because moving through the EPIC process so clearly and tangibly demonstrated both.
- EPIC worked well with people at all levels—Because I had IDI results on the group before doing the EPIC training, I had some sense of people’s abilities prior to meeting with them. Participants in the group ranged from Denial to Acceptance. It can be difficult to plan an event for a group that has such a wide range of abilities. I was pleased to find that everyone in the group was engaged and interested throughout the training.
- EPIC was fun and eye-opening—The two most frequent comments I received on the EPIC training in the weeks following were that it was both fun and eye-opening. The training challenged the participants, caused them to see both themselves and cultural others in new ways, and inspired them to press on to learn more. And all the while, they were having fun!
I expect to use EPIC frequently in the year ahead. It’s a great tool to have in the box!
Caritas France has a terrific learning game about migrants that is available in several languages; we’ve reported about this learning game before.
Well over a year ago Cultural Detective led a wonderful team of talented people who voluntarily translated “On the Road with Migrants” into Spanish. We did our best to keep the language neutral, universal, international. Such is not so easy in Spanish, as you may know, but we did our best.
Caritas has not yet uploaded that version, but you can download it here. It is free to use, though you will need to print out the game boards and cards, and purchase game pieces.
Thank you for helping Caritas and us to help this world develop beyond “tolerance” and into inclusion and cross-cultural justice, equity and collaboration!
I just downloaded a wonderful high-resolution jpg of an equal-area projection Peters Map of the world for FREE thanks to Bob Abramms and our friends at ODT Maps, and you can, too!
The Peters Map jpg is branded with the Doctors Without Borders logo, but, hey, you can print it out most any size you want; it is a terrific asset to a classroom, training room, meeting room, etc. Click here to download your copy.
While you’re at it, you can also download a Hobo-Dyer equal-area projection map via this link. This one is not quite as usable, as it has the Carter Center data all over it. But, it is high-resolution and free.
In Bob’s and ODT’s incredible retirement generosity, they have uploaded other free things you can get your hands on:
- Free hardcopy maps and more at (really some wonderful learning materials here): https://manywaystoseetheworld.org/collections/free-maps-and-more
- Free digital maps and more at: https://manywaystoseetheworld.org/collections/free-downloads-articles-maps-books-atlases-outline-map-kits-handouts-teachers-guides-mp3-audio-files-etc
- Free Diversity Materials at: https://manywaystoseetheworld.org/collections/diversity-digital
- Free Empowerment Materials at: https://manywaystoseetheworld.org/collections/empowerment
We are not retiring BUT, as always, Cultural Detective offers a huge selection of freebies, accessible and downloadable anytime here.
Bless you for helping build intercultural competence, respect, justice, equity, inclusion and collaboration in this polarized world of ours! You are doing vital work.
“An analysis and summary … of common trends for a new set of skills and competencies necessary for success in the twenty-first century, studied by policy-making institutions like UNESCO, by education institutions like the British Council, by multinational corporations like IBM and Google, and by influencer organisations like LinkedIn and the World Economic Forum.”
Entitled “After Cultural Literacy: New Models of Intercultural Competency for Life and Work in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) World”, the article is published in Educational Review, 2019. It is a must-read for any organization desiring to educate and train capable leaders, workers, citizens, and community members, as well as for interculturalists and diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners who seek to build the business case for the work we do. Whether you work in education, business, or in the public sector, with refugees, migration or teams, in economic development or sustainability, this article will prove useful.
“Even a brief analysis of global tendencies – as increased international interconnectedness, the rapid rate of urbanisation, technological advances, increased migration, and the devastation of natural resources – makes it evident that labour markets are increasingly demanding workers with advanced skills. Workplace changes, the transnational movement of refugees, economic migrants, professional and expert service providers, and student exchange programmes created a strong and urgent need for people to learn to live together in this diverse world. Consequently, cultural literacy has come into sharper focus.”
I am proud that the Cultural Detective project has made a huge contribution to the development of intercultural competence in this world of ours. The learning that authors gain while writing their Cultural Detective packages in collaboration with our staff and five to six teams of other-culture authors, and the transformation that the method and materials create with the guidance and facilitation of our expert and dedicated community of practitioners, truly astound me. I’ve always said that products are like children, they take on lives of their own, and Cultural Detective is no exception; it is used in places and ways I could never have imagined, by people I’m proud to work with, and with results that help bridge the polarized divides in contemporary society. This article by Elena Shliakhovchuk, a member of our distinguished authoring team, shows what a fine mind and a determined heart can do to make a difference. Below I will provide a few quotes from her treatise, in hopes that it will pique your curiosity to read the article in full and continue your learning.
The Business Case for Cultural Literacy
(And the use of Cultural Detective, which is proven to develop these competencies.)
- “The spread of literacy in the world and the inclusion of the ability to create, consume and communicate different materials associated with various contexts in the modern understanding of literacy, inclines us to be cooperative and more tolerant to a different other. Harvard psychologist Pinker links widespread literacy to the reduction in people’s “taste for cruelty” and the widening of the circle of tolerance towards others, thus empowering ‘the empathy escalator’.” (2011 Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. New York, NY: Viking.
- “Cultural literacy has begun to be seen as a “modus operandi” (Ochoa, McDonald, & Monk, 2016 García Ochoa, G., McDonald, S., & Monk, N. (2016). Embedding cultural literacy in higher education: A new approach. Intercultural Education, 27(6), 546–559. ) that “highlights communication, comparison and critique, bringing ideas together in an interdisciplinary and international collaboration” (Segal, Kancewicz-Hoffman, Landfester, 2013 Segal, N., Kancewicz-Hoffman, N., & Landfester, U. (2013). Cultural literacy in Europe today (Vol. January). , p. 4). Furthermore, Cultural Literacy is claimed to have the same implications as Opportunity Cost in economics and “can be applied and verified through everyday experience, in any and every context” (Ochoa et al., 2016).
- “Similarly, Rosen argues that management and technology alone will not give economies supremacy, but populations will also need to be culturally literate, “Culture is no longer an obstacle to be overcome. Rather, it is a critical lever for competitive advantage”. He postulates that tomorrow’s leaders will strive to be culturally wise by appreciating similarities and differences between peoples, companies, and countries; and they will know that superficial understanding negatively impacts businesses (Rosen, 2000Rosen, R. (2000). Global literacies: Lessons on business leadership and national cultures: a landmark study of CEOs from 28 countries (1st ed.). Simon & Schuster.).”
- “UNESCO Global Citizenship Education (2014 Global Citizenship Education: an emerging perspective; Technical Consultation on Global Citizenship Education. (2014). ) and the UNESCO “The Education 2030. Incheon Declaration Framework for Action” (2016 Incheon declaration framework for action for the implementation of sustainable development goal 4 ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.) underline the importance of citizenship education and the empowerment of citizens to resolve global challenges and to contribute to a peaceful, inclusive and tolerant world. UNESCO’s “The Hangzhou Declaration Placing Culture at the Heart of Sustainable Development Policies” (2013 UNESCO. The Hangzhou declaration placing culture at the heart of sustainable development policies. ) emphasises that cultural literacy is an integral part of quality education and plays a vital role in the promotion of inclusive and unbiased societies.”
Recent Leading Research on Cultural Literacy
“Over the last decade, reputable institutions… have been analysing the skill set required for a successful specialist in the twenty-first century, concluding that intercultural skills are in high demand.
- Oxford Economics, 2012 Oxford Economics. (2012). Global Talent 2021. How the new geography of talent will transform human resource strategies. Executive summary. .
- British Council, 2013 British Council. (2013). Culture at work. The value of intercultural skills in the workplace.
- World Economic Forum, 2016 World Economic Forum. (2016). New vision for education: Fostering social and emotional learning through technology.
- The latest LinkedIn Workplace Learning Trends Report indicates that soft skills make up the essential skill set that should be cultivated through talent-development programmes. Ninety-two percent of executives name soft skills as equally or more important than technical skills, with 64 percent of responders highlighting the importance of communication skills and 55 percent collaboration skills, confirming that effective communication with others (in its broad meaning) is key to success in the twenty-first century (LinkedIn, 2018 Linkedin, L. co. (2018). Workplace learning & development report 2018 | LinkedIn learning. Retrieved March 21, 2018..
- P21 Partnership for twenty-first Century Learning amongst education, business, community, and government leaders developed P21’s Framework for twenty-first Century Learning to define and summarise the skills and knowledge students required at work, for life and citizenship in the 2020s. The Life and Career Skills category includes Social and Cross-Cultural Skills as required for navigating complicated life and work environments (P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2016 P21 framework for 21st century learning 21st century student outcomes and support systems framework for 21st century learning. (2016). ).
An Updated Model of Cultural Literacy
“Cultural literacy plays an essential role in building social inclusion, promoting economic development, coping with the opportunities and challenges surrounding globalisation and innovation, and fostering sustainability.
Based on the literature reviewed, in order to meet the unique demands of global interconnectedness in a culturally mindful way, the following competencies and skills of the updated cultural literacy model should be cultivated (Figure 3):”
It is worth noting here that regular use of Cultural Detective develops all of these competencies.
Give Elena’s article a read, and then probe more deeply into a couple of the references she links to. You will be glad you did.
For over a decade we have been talking about the fact that developing intercultural competence is a process and a commitment, not a one-shot event. Recently our senior trainer of facilitators, Tatyana Fertelmeyster, interrupted her usual incisive yet humorous social commentary on LinkedIn to share a personal rant:
“I am getting so tired of [the] conversation [that] diversity trainings don’t work! What in the world are we talking about? Antibiotics don’t work! Dah, did you take them twice a day for ten days? No, I took one pill and felt no difference. Or — I took one, felt better, and stopped. And now I am even more sick. Wait — why did a doctor tell you to take antibiotics in the first place? I told him I need to take antibiotics once a year in October. I don’t know why I need to do it and they never make any difference but I still do it. Or — I can’t take antibiotics any more. I have been using them for any kind of health problems for years and now I am allergic to them. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Maybe we first need to define what is a high quality diversity training, what it is and is not good for, who and why should be able to “prescribe” and “administer” that kind of treatment, and how the course of treatment should look depending on the issues and desirable outcomes. The whole process, not a one pill, one time, etc.
I absolutely LOVED this analogy! If bias, injustice, inequity, exclusion, and hate are illness-inducing bacteria, intercultural and diversity competence are antibiotics that can heal society. Yet, there’s a whole lot of garbage out there, and how do we wade through it? As we have frequently discussed on this blog, developing intercultural and equity competencies needs to be done developmentally and sustainably, as with anything in life, and Cultural Detective is a core tool that is proven effective for doing so.
As with any rant by a beloved and respected commentator, a few of the comments were outstandingly salient as well:
- “I have two qualifying comments: 1. Diversity training doesn’t lead to change. People lead to change. No amount of training will change the attitude or behaviour of someone who doesn’t want to change. I know my life will be healthier if I eat less and run more — but I don’t want to change. Diversity training can only raise awareness and try to influence change. Even the best trainer will not make a racist recant their views. 2. A half day/one day/two day training will not create lasting change, but it’s the pattern of 90% of training offered in this area. You attend, have a great time discussing the ways in which diversity matters, you even strategise on what you can do to improve diversity, but you [go] back to your desk to the 200 emails you need to action, the huge task list and the fantastic training slips into oblivion. And I haven’t even started on eLearning yet…. To promote diversity and inclusion agendas, we need to mainstream them. We need to by default consider D&I at every stage of interacting, policy creating, decision making, problem solving, recruiting, firing…….etc. If we consider D&I by default, then attitudes and behaviours will change.”
- “I wonder how many influencers and leaders in business sign up to this training, and also believe in its purpose. Societal change, and change within a business also needs authentic and committed leadership.”
- “When I was young I heard this story: ‘A man heard from someone that faith could move mountains. He had a big mountain near his house that cut out the light — so he decided to try this faith idea. As he went to bed that night he said ‘I have faith that the mountain will be gone in the morning.’ The next day he pulled back the curtains and the mountain was still there. And he said ‘I knew it wouldn’t be gone!’ Many companies sign up for diversity training because they heard it helps business. But, like the man above, they don’t really believe it and don’t fully buy in.”
If you’d like to read the full conversation or join in, here is the link. If you’d like to take your first step towards developing sustainable, meaningful intercultural competence, start with a subscription here.
Now through 30 April download the award-winning Cultural Diversity Sourcebook for free using the coupon code “Sourcebook”, thanks to our friend at ODT, Bob Abramms, and Cultural Detective author extraordinaire, George Simons. Originally published in 1996, it was put into e-book form last year and remains a treasure-trove of excellent material. An edited volume of scholarly articles, classic essays, best practices and quotes from popular culture, poetry and music, I think you’ll find it well worth your time. Thank you for your generosity, gentlemen!
Cultural Detective offers a series of complimentary webinars that you, your colleagues, clients, and prospects should most definitely attend. In the introductory 90-minute webinar, “Cross-Cultural Effectiveness,” participants learn the basic Cultural Detective Method for analyzing interactions in context and using differences as assets, and they receive a three-day pass to the Cultural Detective Online system to explore later on their own. If you haven’t attended, we urge you to do so. And, seriously, invite your colleagues, clients, students, prospects, neighbors; this is great free marketing—many in our community use it as one of the steps in their sales funnel. And don’t forget those in the educational arena—quite a few professors now require Cultural Detective for their classes.
In addition to our introductory webinars, this year we have added four NEW standard webinars, AND we are adding a special series of four online workshops on Latin America! We invite you to join us for one or all of these exciting webinars.
Check out our new special four-part series called “Latin America and Its Place in World Life.” The first online workshop will focus on the Andes Region, the second on the Cone South, the third on Central America including México, and the last on the Caribbean Islands. If you attend all four, you will receive a one-month pass to Cultural Detective Online and one hour of consulting from Fernando Parrado, principal facilitator of the webinars, founder of Global Minds, and co-author of Cultural Detective Colombia. Here’s the series description:
- Latin America has assumed a key leadership role in exploring innovative solutions for restructuring societal inequity and promoting responsible development and the sustainable use of natural resources. Many of these efforts are based on popular, direct-democratic movements, including indigenous social movements. Eleven nations include multiculturalism and multilingualism in their constitutions, and an additional four recognize indigenous rights. The region’s economy is the third largest with a GDP of $5,573,397 million USD, its population was estimated at more than 604 million (third in the world), and biggest world territory (it has an area of approximately 19,197,000 km2).Yet Latin America has been culturally misunderstood! It is often treated as a single market with shared language, religion, history and culture, but the region envelops important differences. This highly experiential workshop will enable participants to explore the richness, complexity, irony, and promise of the hundreds of cultures that comprise Latin America.
Our four newly launched webinars are:
- Cultural Self Discovery in CD Online
During this 90-minute online learning event, participants will learn how Cultural Detective Online allows you to make Personal Values Lenses, a powerful tool for developing understanding of oneself as a cultural being, knowledge that can help you more fully understand why you respond the way you do, and explain yourself to others who may not share your values. Personal Values Lenses can be overlaid and compared with national Values Lenses or Values Lenses of different generations, spiritual traditions, genders, or sexual orientations. Personal Values Lenses are also incredibly helpful tools for enhancing team, family, or community effectiveness. Participants will also leave with a new cross-cultural activity.
- Group Collaboration in CD Online
The value of social and collaborative learning are undisputed, and Cultural Detective Online harnesses the power of such learning simply and easily. During this 60-minute online learning event, participants will learn how to: set up and manage group subscriptions, subscribe and unsubscribe group members and enable them to collaboratively write critical incidents and debriefs, instruct group members to share their work with you (or keep it private), approve or edit submissions, and share submissions with other group members. Participants will receive the PowerPoint slides used in the presentation.
- Building Intercultural Competence in an Organization Using Cultural Detective
In an age when our world communities are polarized like never before, Cultural Detective is an effective tool for bridging differences, resolving conflict, and engaging in difficult dialogues. During this 60-minute online learning event, participants will explore some of our client’s best practices for building intercultural competence, effectiveness, and innovation by making the most of Cultural Detective Online in their organizations. We will cover both strategies and techniques, small projects and organization-wide efforts. Participants will also leave with a new cross-cultural activity.
- How is Cultural Detective Different from Other Intercultural Tools?
These days we are blessed with a broad selection of intercultural communication and diversity tools, exercises, and techniques. Yet, the vast majority of these are based on cultural dimensions—a terrific model for comparing cultures, though not necessarily effective for bridging them, and particularly not for helping us build respect, equity, and justice in our world. During this 60-minute online learning event, participants will take a look at some of the features that make Cultural Detective Online effective and unique in the marketplace, as well as key requisites to developing intercultural competence.
Seats are limited, so be sure to reserve yours today!
Global Gender Intelligence Assessment and Cultural Detective Women and Men
Guest post by Donna M. Stringer
Using these two instruments in combination could have ground-breaking results in the area of gender relationships in the working environment (and beyond). And if we can improve gender relations, it would be nothing less than a global revolution!
The Global Gender Intelligence Assessment is a new online tool created by Barbara Annis and Alan Richter. It is an outstanding resource that measures gender attitudes and competence in the areas of Insight (Head), Inclusion (Heart) and Adaptation (Hands). These three constructs are combined with scores for Self, Others and World, giving you a 3 x 3 grid of nine gender-related competencies—each with interpretation and developmental suggestions. There are two versions of the assessment: one for general staff and one for leaders.
The most useful aspects of this assessment are the Interpretations and Personal Action Planning sections. These areas offer detailed, practical, and “doable” suggestions for building competencies. Many assessments provide “Developmental” suggestions that are so general that they read like “can’t we just get along.” The GGIA developmental options are different. They are well thought out and so varied that individuals from a wide range of cultural perspectives can find culturally effective and appropriate ideas to implement.
The assessment is also affordable at $11-$15/per person depending on numbers purchased. For further information contact Alan Richter.
Culture Detective: Women and Men is, of course, not a new tool—it was developed as the first non-national Cultural Detective package in 2007 and revised in 2010. One of the many advantages of CD programs is that they help people understand culture and their own responses to cultural differences. Exposing people to CDs is a developmental process: it is non-judgmental and allows participants to see the world through a different lens, shift perspectives, and identify ways to bridge the differences that might otherwise create conflict or mis-understanding. CDs take a general understanding and problem solving approach that allows cultural differences to be seen as interesting issues to “solve.” The Cultural Detective Women and Men allows people to explore gender differences in a manner that is fun but not personal. Once individuals are able to approach gender in this manner, they are ready for the next step: examining their own individual gender competencies.
As a developmental process, it would work beautifully to use the GGIA as a follow-up to the CD Women and Men. Having experienced a non-judgmental process of understanding and considering both one’s own and the “other” gender, and identifying bridging behaviors, most individuals would now be ready to complete an assessment that allows them an interpretation of their responses followed by outstanding strategies for personal development suggestions.
Regardless of one’s occupation, organization, or country, gender is a primary diversity characteristic—and one that virtually everyone encounters in life. As I have traveled and worked around the globe, virtually every organization has gender as a diversity and inclusion issue. Using these two instruments in combination could have ground-breaking results in the area of gender relationships in the working environment (and beyond)—and if we can improve gender relations, it would be nothing less than a global revolution!
Written by Donna M. Stringer, Ph.D.
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!