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            [post_content] => Due to a number of factors such as technology and globalisation our day to day lives - whether business or personal increasingly involve broader international networks.  And while in the IMI blog we often consider our "effectiveness" in how we interact with and manage others but all too often we do not discuss the critical factors of nationality and culture.

How do cultural differences impact on your ability to do business? And how can we make sure we are maximising our relationships with those in our network who may be operating with cultural differences to our own.  

Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD, one of the world's leading international business schools. Her work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Singapore Business Times and In 2013 the Thinkers 50 named her as one of 30 up-and-coming thinkers and in October 2013 British Airways Business Life magazine on their list of 'Ten Dons to Watch'. Her work focuses on how the world's most successful global leaders navigate the complexities of cultural differences in an international environment.  


IMI: Based on your current work - if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

EM: Succeed Globally with a Culture Map

IMI: What does this mean?

EM: Today, whether we work with colleagues in Dusseldorf or Dubai, Brasilia or Beijing, New York or New Delhi, we are all part of a global network (real or virtual, physical or electronic) where success requires navigating through wildly different cultural realities. Unless we know how to decode other cultures and avoid easy-to-fall-into cultural traps, we are easy prey to misunderstanding, needless conflict, and ultimate failure.

Yet most managers have little understanding of how local culture impacts global interaction. Even those who are culturally informed, travel extensively, and have lived abroad often have few strategies for dealing with the cross-cultural complexity that affects their team's day-to-day effectiveness.

To help people improve their ability to decode the cultural differences impacting their work and to enhance their effectiveness in dealing with these differences, I have built on the work of many in my field to develop a tool called the Culture Map. It is made up of eight scales representing the management behaviours where cultural gaps are most common.

The eight scales are based on decades of academic research into culture from multiple perspectives. To this foundation I have added my own work, which has been validated by extensive interviews with thousands of executives who have confirmed or corrected my findings.   The scales are:
  • Communicating: explicit vs. implicit
  • Evaluating: direct criticism vs. indirect criticism
  • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
  • Deciding: consensual vs. top down
  • Trusting: task vs. relationship
  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoidance
  • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time
  • Persuading: applications-first vs. principles-first
By analyzing the relative positioning of one nationality to another on each scale, managers learn to decode how culture influences day-to-day international collaboration and therefor avoid the common pitfalls. Managers have always needed to understand human nature and personality differences – that’s nothing new. What is new is that twenty-first century managers must understand a wider, richer array of work styles than ever before. They have to be able to determine which aspects of their interactions are simply a result of personality and which are a result of differences in cultural perspective. IMI: Where should we look for further information? EM: Read The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business.  Or my HBR article:  Navigating the Cultural Minefield Erin Meyer will be holding a Masterclass at IMI on September 30th.  If you are interested in attending click here to register. [post_title] => "Decode cultural differences to suceed globally" Six Word Wisdom from Erin Meyer [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => six-word-wisdom-erin-mayer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:04:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:04:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16058 [post_author] => 89 [post_date] => 2016-09-20 14:18:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-20 14:18:38 [post_content] => 2016 photo Sydney Finkelstein Sydney Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, where he teaches courses on Leadership and Strategy.  He is also the Faculty Director of the flagship Tuck Executive Program, and has experience working with executives at a number of other prestigious universities around the world.  His latest bestselling book is SUPERBOSSES: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent. He will be a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference on 29th September 2016.   IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business – what would they be?

SF: Great leaders create other great leaders.

IMI: What does this mean? SF:  Imagine a world where the work you did really mattered. Where the person who you call your boss changed your life by helping you accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Where your own opportunities would multiply in ways you may have been afraid to even dream of. That’s the world of “superbosses”, leaders with an incredible track record of generating world-class talent time and again. By systematically studying business legends and pop culture icons like Lorne Michaels, Ralph Lauren, George Lucas, Larry Ellison, Miles Davis, Charlie Mayfield, and Alice Waters, what superbosses actually do comes into focus. And anyone can do these same things. Superbosses identify, motivate, coach and leverage others in remarkably consistent, yet highly unconventional and unmistakably powerful ways. Superbosses aren’t like most bosses; they follow a playbook all their own. They are unusually intense and passionate — eating, sleeping, and breathing their businesses and inspiring others to do the same. They look fearlessly in unusual places for talent and interview them in colorful ways. They create impossibly high work standards that push protégées to their limits. They partake in an almost inexplicable form of mentoring, one that occurs spontaneously and with no clear rules. They lavish responsibility on inexperienced protégées, taking risks that seem scary and foolish to outsiders. When the time is right superbosses may even encourage star talent to leave so they can then become part of a strategic network of acolytes in the industry. IMI: Where should we look for further information? SF: I put together a list of interesting articles related to this subject: Superbosses aren't afraid to delegate their biggest decisions The rise of the superbosses George Lucas: Management Guru? The Power of Feeling Unthreatened Hire People and Get Out of the Way Sydney Finkelstein is a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference taking place on Thursday 29th of September. To register for this event, please click here. [post_title] => "Great leaders create other great leaders" Six Word Wisdom from Sydney Finkelstein [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => great-leaders-create-great-leaders-six-word-wisdom-sydney-finkelstein [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:54:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:54:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16066 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2016-09-13 12:24:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-13 12:24:52 [post_content] => Adrian Funham photo2Previously a lecturer in Psychology at Pembroke College, Oxford, he has been Professor of Psychology at University College London since 1992. He has lectured widely abroad and held scholarships and visiting professorships at, amongst others, the University of New South Wales, the University of the West Indies, the University of Hong Kong and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has also been a Visiting Professor of Management at Henley Management College. He has recently been made Adjunct Professor of Management at the Norwegian School of Management. Since 2007 he has been nominated by HR magazine as one of the 20 Most Influential People in HR. IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business – what would they be?

AF: Every Disruption involves threat and opportunity.

IMI: What does that mean? AF: We live in turbulent times: times of both threat and opportunity that really test managers. So what are the fundamental principles of good management to ensure staff are happy, motivated and productive? Can you teach experts to become good people managers and if so, how? What is the role of money in motivation? And how can we engage rather than disenchant our staff? We know from futurologists that the world of work is changing fast, even though many predictions have not come true. But where we work, for whom we work and with whom we work are all in flux. How do you manage the older worker? What are young people really like in the work-place? What is the work-place and organisation of the (near) future going to look like? Finally, I address the (continual) management of change. Which strategies work best and why? No one ever said managing people was easy: but we can learn to do it better and ensure our organisation thrives and survives in an uncertain world. Adrian Furnham is a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference taking place on Thursday 29th  of September. To register please click here.   [post_title] => "Every Disruption involves threat and opportunity" Six Word Wisdom from Adrian Furnham [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => every-disruption-involves-threat-opportunity-six-word-wisdom-adrian-furnham [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:56:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:56:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Hugh Torpey

Hugh Torpey

31st Oct 2017

Hugh Torpey is the Content Manager at the IMI.

Related Articles

"Decode cultural differences to suceed globally" Six Word Wisdom from Erin Meyer
"Great leaders create other great leaders" Six Word Wisdom from Sydney Finkelstein
"Every Disruption involves threat and opportunity" Six Word Wisdom from Adrian Furnham

Brian Robertson: Holocracy

The best reason to keep a tradition going, as everybody knows, is because it’s been done like that in the past. No point in changing what we know. When politicians shout ‘change!’ what people really hear is ‘tomorrow will very much be like today’.

Safe and comfortable, our brains have no need to click into gear.

Brian Robertson, co-founder of Holocracy (a method of decentralized management and organizational governance), believes that’s worth a re-think, particularly when it comes to management structures. The top-down, traditional hierarchical approach has been the standard model since the industrial revolution (and before), with power being disseminated down the chain, responsibilities compartmentalised and, in effect, eventually creating such a communication chasm between employees and management that having a conversation becomes a rigid process rather than a free exchange of information and ideas.

Brian Roberston (Photo source)

Brian suggests that this top-down model has become outdated. It worked brilliantly in the past, hence why it has been adopted so ubiquitously, but with the pace of change rapidly increasing, our management structures need to be much more flexible to deal with the flow of information and ideas coming from outside and within.

‘In the middle of the last century as an executive, how many messages did you get a day? How many demands on your attention? Probably not that many. But today? It’s at least an order of magnitude. And it’s not just the high-powered executive, it’s every knowledge worker in that building’.

In this rapidly changing world, the person at the bottom of the hierarchical structure is just as likely to have that breakthrough idea – or simply a better way of setting up any business process more efficiently – but the structure above them crushes their ability to get their idea heard and carried out by someone with the power to do so.

Holocracy breaks that structure. It involves the devolving of power throughout an organisation, creating a structure that allows information to flow in all directions. It gives real responsibilities and ownership to each and every employee. So, how does it work in practical terms?

In essence, Holcoracy taps into the ideas behind natural evolution in order to create a natural order out of what, on the face of it, looks more chaotic, through small, incremental changes. These changes are based on ‘tensions’ felt by an individual in their own job role. If an individual feels a tension in their role, they bring that tension to a ‘governance meeting’ – occurring every month or so – and pitch their idea to resolve the tension.

All other team members could comment on the pitch and make suggestions, but the basic premise is accepted as true from the outset. The only reason it won’t go through is if the final question ‘Would this change do anybody any harm?’ is answered in the affirmative.

Holocracy doesn’t focus on making operational decisions like how to launch the next product, but is a way of stepping back from working in the organisation to working on the organisation itself. Through these small changes organisations can rapidly become more efficient with employees feeling genuinely empowered to fulfil their role. With Holocracy, there is no major organisational shift all at once.

It is also not a hippy farm in 1970s California, there are real structures in place – it’s just that they are flexible and have the ability to evolve with the changing environment. To really empower an employee and get them to take ownership of their roles, there has to be rules.

For Holocracy, real empowerment requires:

  • Boundaries
  • Structures
  • Rules
  • Clarity
  • Constraints

And, when you look at the above list, it’s clear what it is: a description of the perfect manager. True empowerment comes from having responsibility for the consequences of your work, and having clear boundaries in which that work can be produced. It is also crucial for creativity – because unlimited boundaries leads to a Jackson Pollock painting with no canvas i.e. a mess on the floor.

These rules and guidelines are contained with the ‘Holocracy Constitution’, a handbook for employees to use as guides through this new way of management thinking.

The way the company is structured is closer to the cells in a human body than to the top-down traditional structure. Teams are drawn together by their outcomes, such as everyone involved with marketing is in the ‘Outreach’ group. This team evolves according to its needs over time, adding and shedding members. All employees within the team know their roles, and can suggest new roles and responsibilities where any ‘tension’ creeps in, thereby constantly updating the processes that your company needs to succeed.

With this sort of philosophy, digital adaption would have been a huge amount quicker in some of our biggest companies, which would have given them an enormous competitive edge over their rivals. The fact that change was slow in getting to the top (often taking years) meant opportunities were missed.

This is also where disruptor companies steal a march – they didn’t have to convince their bosses that there was a gap (aka ‘tension’) in the market, they just filled it.

By sublimating his ego to help the business succeed, Brian could give his employees the responsibility, enthusiasm and drive to help the business succeed. They weren’t working for a pay-cheque, they were working for outcomes.

‘People ask me ‘but what is it like giving up control?’ The irony is, I have far more control than I ever did in my CEO days. The difference is not that I have less control, it’s that everyone else has more control. I know exactly what team member is doing and what they are responsible for – and they know the same about me. Clarity is control.’

Workers no longer had to dust off their job descriptions to see what they were supposed to be doing, they were actively contributing to what their role should be. Indeed, ‘job descriptions’ within an holocracy system are not static documents, they are dynamic descriptions that evolve over time based on the needs of the organisation.

In the end, just like the tension felt within an organisation, it came down to a feeling. As Brian put it ‘The way we organised for the past century can’t be the way we organise for the next’.

Hugh Torpey is the Content Manager at the IMI. Hugh’s article is based on a talk given at the IMI by Brian Robertson at the National Management Conference 2017. Brian Robertson is an experienced entrepreneur, organisational pioneer, and author of the book Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World