‘Our planning permission in Shanghai keeps getting turned down. Why?’
‘Our joint venture negotiations in Tokyo have stalled. Could the problem be cultural?’
‘We’ve had a big drive to embed our organisational values at all global sites, but it’s failing in Russia and Brazil…’
We help solve your business challenges. The process starts with individual and organisational self-knowledge (given that organisations tend to be rooted in the national culture of their country of origin.)
Sometimes challenges are clear and can be met through training or coaching, but what about the vague, unstructured challenges?
Culture is complex, non-rational and challenging to measure and quantify – but one of the most important things of all to sort out for any global organisation.
Getting culture right offers a great competitive opportunity. But how to harness it?
The process varies according to your organisation and needs, but here is an indicative structure:
What do you believe your challenges are? We listen to your hypotheses, then collect hard data on the cultural dynamics of your organisation. Some of your instincts may be confirmed, but be prepared for counter-intuitive findings too.
What do you want to achieve? We need to understand your business goals to draw the right conclusions and give practical recommendations. Our job is to untangle the cultural knot, then present you with alternatives to make your decision-making clearer.
Are you ready to commit to the process, and to change? For great results you need to be committed to work closely with us and have a strong will to change. Put your trust in us and we will not let you down. Our cross-cultural business started in Finland where a core value is sisu , meaning ‘guts, persistence, a relentless determination to succeed’. We have sisu and enjoy working with people who have it too.
Analysis consists of all or some of the following:
- Interviewing key people to get their thoughts about the situation, including their views of the various cultural groups involved. This enables us to map intra-cultural perceptions, adding our own comments – for example, where we feel there may be misunderstandings stemming from other factors than culture.
- Observing some internal meetings.
- Attending one of your internal training courses (for instance, on organisational values).
- Talking to your consultants in other areas to gather their insights into your organisation and its needs.
- Putting people through the CultureActive survey to map the organisation as a whole, as well as comparing different parts according to your criteria.
- Mapping the CultureActive survey results against other behavioural analyses you may have done.
Analysis can be carried out again, at any point, to measure how things have changed following our interventions.
- The first major output from the analysis is a report recounting major findings, conclusions and recommendations. We make it easy to read by an executive summary at the start, using plain English: no ‘management speak’!
- The summary captures the key points and sharpest insights in a way that allows you to skip straight to our recommendations if you are short of time.
- The initial report may be supplemented by a short follow up report – either written or in person – after we have gathered people’s reactions to the initial one.
- Recommendations include proposals for training/coaching as well as suggestions for co-authoring of new material customised for your organisation – for instance a tailored dialogue mat, industry-specific role-plays, simulations or case studies. The aim is always to move towards the behavioural change you want, in your given environment.
- You can’t change culture – and shouldn’t try – but you can get people to change how they behave and communicate in specific contexts.
- We can train your internal behavioural skills trainers how to deliver short cultural workshops.
- We discuss with you how to communicate the content of the report, and the whole initiative to your staff, and ensure the tone fits in with your house style.
- Communication can be formal, informal and through social media and include videos, story-board animations, webinars, colourful wall-charts, internal handbooks, company event-planning, logos, writing short ‘cultural moment’ case-studies to be used by staff in internal meetings, and ‘merchandise’ or artifacts spreading the word.
Action is all the things we do to transform behaviour in a sustainable way.
How can we translate the analysis, coaching, training and communication into behavioural change that has a positive and measurable effect on results?
The secret is dissecting large amounts of information into specific job-related actions and ways of communicating that people use continuously, even under pressure. This means getting their commitment.
One example is the work we do with diverse teams. We bring teams to a clear understanding of potential ‘cultural hot spots’ and opportunities, and use a variety of simple tools and methods to prioritise where they need to build bridges, and how they can benefit from diversity.
It may be as simple as coming up with a common phrase to express disagreement; using a green, red and amber card system in meetings to make sure everyone gets an equal chance to speak; videoing meetings and having a short debrief afterwards; beginning each meeting with a short discussion based on one aspect of their team CultureActive results – such as approaches to ‘truth’ in the team; consciously using linear-active team members to bring focus and drive, multi-actives to solve personality conflicts and revive enthusiasm, or reactives to take a strategic approach or achieve consensus.
Gaining competitive advantage from culture to build a winning and creative diverse team is not about one workshop, but engaging in a process of repetition, variety and practice – integrating the cultural element into all the team does.