Culture & Competency

Working Across Cultures – Two Resources

Last week I was doing some preliminary research for a client project in the adoption area. A financial services institution is deploying a suite of new collaboration tools, and I was asked to structure an approach for the human side of the adoption program. I’m not involved in the project yet, but it was important to lay the groundwork for something that may happen early next year. One of the twists with this project is that the client is based in an Asian country, and hence there was a need to think more deeply about how national culture impacts collaboration style and the adoption approach taken.

I read some background information on the specific national culture, and also initiated a couple of conversations with people about their experiences in Asia. One of those people – Nancy Settle-Murphy of Guided Insights and author of Leading Effective Virtual Teams – pointed me to a couple of resources I didn’t know about.

1. CultureGrams is an information service that (in their words) “goes beyond mere facts and figures to deliver an insider’s perspective on daily life and culture, including the history, customs, and lifestyles of the world’s people.” It offers an online database of resources (on a subscription basis), but also sells individual reports on specific countries. I purchased the 2013 edition of the report for the country I was focused on; it was only US$5. The resulting PDF was 8 pages in length, and lived up to its promise. It was a small amount of money well spent.

2. Argonaut is another information service that offers online resources for intercultural learning. You need a login to see what it offers, but once you are in, you browse to the country you want to learn about, and then choose the category you want to study. For example, the country I checked out had sections on communication, country facts, negotiating and influencing, time, values and concepts, and working relationships. Each category is then broken down to a number of issues, such as directness, and email and writing in the communication category. You then get a page of analysis for the country-category-issue combination.

If you are doing work across cultures and need a quick introduction to another national culture, check out the above resources.

Categories: Culture & Competency