As a Canadian I am informal, consensus building, highly individualistic, and reserved before building trust and relationships through successful projects. I also define myself to a large extent by not being a Yank.
Do these generalizations sound familiar?
I learned from Don Rutherford, a facilitator who has consulted for many years with different organizations around the world, that identifying trends and generalizations about different cultures can help us work together more effectively. Don pointed out that generalizing vs. stereotyping is an important distinction. Generalizing helps to make better decisions. For example, I generally know that if I leave the house at 8 to get downtown it will take me 20 minutes longer than if I leave the house at 9, and I organize my day accordingly.
Don produced the Canadian Values Lens for Cultural Detective. When Don introduced Michelle and I to the Cultural Detectives Value Lenses we were struck with the resonating language. We explore values and needs to help people resolve conflict, as Don explores them to open the dialogue about cultural differences in the workplace. We had a great conversation which surfaced some good examples.
Values which have an impact here in Canada include hierarchical vs. not; valuing technical skills vs. valuing softskills; and respect for elders. I noted as we explored these that organizations have values too which impact cultures. Often these organizational values come into conflict with a new leader, or following a joint venture or merger.
I think it is important to be curious. So often we can be blind to the different routes which will lead us to consensus. A leader within a very hierarchical culture can for example, still solicit feedback and opinion from others to build consensus. Perhaps the ideas are presented as the leader’s ideas, but the best ideas still surface.
Are you interested in learning more about Cultural Detective value lenses? Free webinars are available. You can learn more here.