Top 3 Global, Cross Cultural Facts in Business This Week

The Globalist reported this weeks cultural change, cultural agility, and global expansion facts:

1) From 2000-2008, African economies grew at twice the pace than the 1980’s and 90’s. – The McKinsey Global Institute

2) In 2009, China, produced about 36% of all solar panels made worldwide, taking the lead from Europe, which had a 18% share. Japan was third at 16% and North America, primarily the U.S. was fourth at 8%. – Photon Consulting LLC

3) In mid-2010, the Bank of Japan appointed its first female branch manager in its 128-year history, Japan Airlines Corporation announced its first female pilot captain, and East Japan Railway now has female station masters in Tokyo for the first time. -Wall Street Journal

Cultural Shift: Latinos Drink Wine

The San Jose Mercury News reported that a recent survey found Latinos drink 50% more wine in their households now than in 2005. In the Bay Area, many of the farm workers and grape-pickers at the wineries in the region have been of Latin cultural  background. Ironically, wine was not a common beverage amongst this culturally diverse group. However there has been a cultural shift. Today, many Latinos not only drink wine but are making their own. In fact there are several wineries which offer tours in the Spanish language, appealing to the Spanish-speaking cultures (aside from Spain, Argentina, and Chile) who are rather new to wine appreciating – at least in this country. It is a testament to the hard-working immigrant who has the chance to work their way up from farming to running a winery business. I, for one, love the Arroyo winery in Calistoga, they offer a simple yet lovely atmosphere to taste and enjoy wines. Viva the Latin world and another interesting shift in global business.

Cultural Differences: Death and Social Media

A dear friend from high school passed away suddenly this week while he was traveling and teaching in Cambodia and Thailand. He was the type of person who lived in the fast-lane and liked to take risks so in some ways it wasn’t entirely a surprise. However, it is sad in that he had just embarked on a cross cultural adventure in Southeast Asia. Developing cultural agility in his therapy practice as well as for his professorship in psychology at Montana State. In a way, you could say, he was initiating his own global expansion in cultural diversity.

What I found oddly disturbing is his Facebook page has remained the same. Everything is in tack, his photo doesn’t change and his posts just stopped. Many, many friends are writing on his wall, expressing sadness and saying goodbye. From a communication perspective, this feels strange for me. Maybe it’s my cultural background? I don’t like that he can no longer monitor or control his wall, that he is memorialized without his knowing. I wish Facebook would take the site down, but I guess there are many different opinions about this and perhaps it isn’t fair to those who want to say goodbye… I guess its the virtual leaving of flowers and food. Sitting Shiva on-line, or having a global memorial service on the internet. For me, culturally it feels funny. But I guess this is the times we live in now.

I wonder what other cultures think about it? Has anyone discussed it across cultures? Is there a global best practice for social media in the case of death?

Top 10 Companies Promoting Asian Cultural Diversity

Leveraging Cultural Diversity is the key to continued business success. According to Diversity Inc, this is the list of U.S. companies with world class strategies in cultural awareness in recruiting, hiring and retaining Asian Americans:

1) Deloitte

2) Starwood Hotels & Resorts

3) Johnson & Johnson

4) IBM

5) PriceWaterHouse Coopers

6) Kaiser Permanente

7) Abbott

8) American Express

9) Procter & Gamble

10) Wells Fargo

Here are some facts about The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies and their strive for cultural agility in top employer for Asian American cultural diversity:

  • Their board of directors average 6.3 percent Asians, compared with 2 percent nationally
  • Their top level of management is almost 5 percent Asian.
  • They represent an average of 13.6 percent of their companies’ workforces, compared with 4.8 percent nationally
  • They represent an average of 14.3 percent of managers in their companies, compared with 6.1 percent nationally

Contact us for more information on how to work successfully across cultures:

“Accountability” in Cross Cultural Teams

Recently, in my global consulting practice, I’ve been asked about the communication concept of “accountability” in cross cultural teamwork and I’ve come to understand that the cultural difference is between those from Individual cultural backgrounds and those from Collective cultural backgrounds. There isn’t the same intercultural concept as what we mean by it here in the United States. The U.S. business person would say accountability is about taking individual initiative, being responsible for something – good or bad – and taking ownership for it. Cultural diversity dictates that in most Collective cultures, accountability lies with the perceived hierarchy and the team as a whole and not with the individual. Especially if that individual isn’t seen as the leader or manager. In order to guarantee world class results and successful global expansion, one needs to stop being frustrated by a lack of cultural understanding in the term “accountability” and apply a strategy which embodies cultural diversity.

Sustainability in Israel, a Cultural Difference?

Interestingly enough, it seems that Israel is one of the rare countries that is approaching the trendy topic of sustainability with a more holistically world class approach. The State of Israel has declared that they will hold political leaders responsible for developing policies, procedures and strategies which meet the cultural diversity of Israel’s population and approach sustainability from a social, economic and environmental perspective. Culturally this is interesting in that Israel has always been very people-oriented and of course see little if no separation from people and land, or therefore, social and environmental. This intercultural difference might mean that instead of “man vs. environment”, Israel might see it as “man with environment” and create a whole new wave of options for the future of sustainability globally.

Cultural Differences: Slovakia, a few reflections…

I was just on a project in Slovakia, specifically Bratislava. I had been there before so I felt rather comfortable getting around the city, sight-seeing, and finding my way to shops, restaurants and a nice gym for a few workouts. (a rarity on the road) Again, people were generally very helpful, efficient, and service-oriented. Not necessarily always friendly but not unfriendly either. The hotel was an Austrian brand and the rooms were really nice, but I’ve never had such bad-tasting food in a hotel in my life! Luckily there was a little Italian place across the road that served up pasta arrabiata, pea soup, and rocket salad that became my staple for the six days I was there.

In speaking with the locals, the consensus was that people were selfish in Bratislava. Meaning, the culture is such that people only looks out for their own good and most individuals strive for their own piece of the pie. This isn’t easy in Slovakia, because although there is some global expansion and new shopping malls as well as hotels, the average person makes 700 Euro per month and the price of goods is comparable to Austria where the average salary is 3500 Euro per month.

Additionally, although not as extreme as in some places, “corruption” or “gift-giving” – depending on how you look at it – plays a role in getting daily, basic needs met. Paying “tips” to the doctor, pharmacist, insurance agent, teacher, etc. is not unusual in Slovakian culture if you want or need special treatment.

Generally, I found that the Slovakians were curious about the world, many had been outside of Slovakia, had impressive cross cultural skills, and most spoke English and German quite well.

The Keys to Deriving Innovation from Cross Culture Teams

Many people ask me, “How can I get innovation from my global team?” The answer is simple, yet, complicated. According to Innovation Theory, innovation comes from pre-existing concepts or ideas which intersect and a new possibility comes out of that intersection. You can look at your cross cultural team in the same way. Meaning Germans, Mexicans, Singaporeans, and Swedes come together to interact (intersect) in teamwork and the question is how do we leverage culture and derive innovation out of this interaction? The keys are “trust” and “motivation”. With trust, a main tool is communication or best practices in communicating across cultures. Motivation decides which incentives you offer your team members. Sit down with your team and come up with 3 ways to build trust or increase trust and do the same for motivation. Once people feel more comfortable, secure, open and motivated, they’ll generate creativity that leads to innovation.

Who knew? Brits Crossing Cultures.

Fascinating how Colin Firth, Christian Bale, and Hugh Laurie can transform their British accents into perfect, undetectable American accents. I wonder if they change their mindset as well? Style-switching is key to being able to meet your audience’s needs and expectations – both in acting and in global corporate business. (if those can even be separated) Colin, Christian and Hugh aren’t less British, nor do they lose their true selves when they portray Americans, but they are adaptive, flexible and agile in their roles. Hugh told Ellen in an interview yesterday that he sometimes mixes up which side of the road to drive on but once he sees an angry face, he realizes his mistake and quickly shifts over. It doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes forget to style switch across cultures, but to try is a successful start.