Do You Really Know Your Culture?
Culture is learned. It comes from the top. Frequently no one questions it. It is inherently logical to the people who practice it. It is often not, and most often not when dealing with multicultural communication challenges, linear. It is prized by those who practice it; it creates homogenous grouping, which sets up barriers that are difficult, if not impossible, to penetrate. People of a culture, when challenged, become defensive, and people only hear what they choose to hear. Linguists tell us that when people speak a different language, they think differently. For example, the Chinese and the Western thought process is completely different. These two cultures do not see the same thing when they look a painting. The perfect example of this is to look at the setting for any Chinese Meal:
Now contrast that to a Western style meal setting:
The Chinese see the collective and the requisite for sharing everything (hence Communism), and the Western view emphasizes individualism (this is mine, I earned it). Within your corporation, you have the same divergent worldviews, only it is more masked than with distinct ethnicities. Add to this the differences in seeing from the 16 personality types as demonstrated by the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument and you begin to see the challenge to building synergy. Furthermore, as the trend continues with more people staying longer in the workforce for a longer time, you now have four distinct generations to manage, motivate, and market to. There has never been a time like this or a bigger corporate challenge than is required for leadership in what is now a very flat governance environment.Cultural transformation can be a slow process and evolution can take a really long time. Transformation that is mandated by circumstances, i.e. the world has changed and your product, service, people have not, must be managed carefully and must “begin with the end in mind”(Covey). The end however, cannot be to make a better product or to harness more artificial intelligence, rather it has to be a larger vision that points to a real purpose that only the individual and then the collective can articulate. This is where we start: see Simon Sinek: Start with Why (Ted Talk)The interior journey is where we begin and then move to the collective. Case in point: if you review the choices made by Seahawks Coach, John Schneider, in his acquisition of players from 2010 forward, it is clear that he knew himself well, and as a result was able to select players in an almost counter-intuitive way. While it is always about winning, for Schneider it was more about building a team that bought into the culture that winning was a real possibility.Winning cultures can be created, but only with there is more at stake that the account you want to close!