Strategic Planning to Increase Cultural Competence in Organizations Kevin Browne, PhD Midwest Center for Cultural Competence, LLC WI-SHRM Conference, October 12, 2006 [email_address]
Understand culture and how it affects organizations and all spheres of life.
Understand dimensions of diversity
Understand the cultural competence continuum
Understand the importance of cultural competence to organizational and global business success
Understand a Strategic Planning process for developing more culturally competent organizations.
Provide an opportunity to explore your cultural values and beliefs and how they affect your organization.
Culture: What is It?
“ Culture is the sum total of life patterns passed on from generation to generation within a group of people and includes institutions, language, religious ideals, habits of thinking, artistic expressions, and patterns of social and interpersonal relationships.” ( Hodge, Struckman, and Trost, 1975)
“ Culture is man’s medium; there is not one aspect of human life that is not touched and altered by culture. This means personality, how people express themselves, the way they think, how they move, how problems are solved, how their cities are planned and laid out, how transportation systems function and are organized, as well as how economic and government systems are put together and function.” ( Edward Hall, 1976)
Everyone has culture
Culture is learned and shared, and always subject to change.
Culture is localized, created through discrete interactions among specific people.
Culture is evaluative: values are embedded in behaviors and choices
People often belong to many subcultures at once.
Underlying cultural values change slowly.
More Visible Features
Less Visible Features
People often make assumptions about others in order to understand with whom they are dealing.
This defining of others is rooted in needs for control in our lives.
Relationship building is key to cultural competence!
What is our lens regarding the culture of business/organizations?
Dimensions of Diversity
A behavior response to cultural difference and diversity.
Identifying where we are on the continuum helps us move toward greater supporting and promoting of cultural competence.
We are always, inevitably, responding to culture and difference.
Our basic life position on the continuum represents fundamental beliefs and values. In any given encounter we can move up or down on the continuum.
Cultural Competence Continuum
Cultural Destructiveness—making conscious efforts to destroy different cultures (“we’re number one”). Belief in cultural superiority; oppresses others.
Cultural Incapacity—inability to be helpful to other cultures (“take care of our own”). Paternalistic, ignorant of others, denies equal access
Cultural Denial—belief that dimensions of diversity aren’t important (“everyone’s the same”). Belief that dominant models apply to all, encourages suppression of difference.
Cultural Pre-competence—realizes inadequacy of response to difference, attempts to improve (‘nice policies, limited action”). Dangers: complacency and tokenism.
Cultural competence—valuing and embracing difference, self-examination, developing cultural knowledge and skills, commitment to cultural encounters (“mutual adaptation to difference”).
Cultural proficiency—mindfully engaging in behaviors and beliefs that value dimensions of diversity (“hold culture in high esteem”). Advocate for cultural competence throughout system and community
Benefits from becoming more culturally competent
Competitive advantage in the global marketplace
Higher workplace productivity
Need to switch off cultural cruise control
Knowledge: specific knowledge of cultural differences
Mindfulness: paying attention to context—be aware on own assumptions and feelings, notice what is apparent about others, see multiple perspectives, use empathy, etc
Behavioral Skills: ability to adapt behavior and communication to a range of intercultural situations
Group discussion—what does silence mean?
Cultural Ways of Knowing
Different cultural priorities: achievement, social harmony (saying no, bad news), etc.
Knowing: analytic, holistic, sensing, etc.—linear thinking not shared worldwide
Relationships or Results
Is age valued or devalued?
Cultural Meanings in Business and Organizations
Meanings derive from the worldviews of the different parties—diverge or converge?
Meanings contractual or relationship-based?
The context tells us why , which leads to what.
Contexts are both verbal and non-verbal
Understanding meanings requires good communication and relationships.
Culture and Business
Most of the world conducts business based on trust and relationships.
Cultural Intelligence requires knowledge, flexibility, mindful awareness, behavioral skills.
Openness and learning from experiences of difference, generalizing the learning.
High Context: The successful exchange of information depends on applying a shared framework for understanding. Meaning tends to be implicit and less literal. Heavy reliance on voice tone, body posture, facial expressions, eye contact, use of silence, and other non-verbal cues. Context is critical!
Low Context: Reliance is placed upon explicit meanings, often written. Words are taken literally, and non-verbal communication is often ignored. Documentation is prevalent.
Face-to-face vs. e-mail
Are organizations in the U.S. mostly high or low?
Strategic planning I
Goals/Objectives/ Desired Outcomes
Strategic Planning II
Product Development/Service Delivery
Physical Environment: is the design conducive to diverse styles and needs?
Staff and Management: do they take a leadership role in modeling cultural competence
Communication and Language: is it respectful of different cultures and styles of communication?
General Environment: is the organizational tone one of appreciating differences?
Staff & Management
Education and Training
Personal, unit and agency assessments
Communication and Language
Dialogue vs. Debate
Unfold shared meaning
Integrate multiple perspectives
Uncover and examine assumptions
Tell, sell, persuade
Gain agreement on one meaning
Evaluate/select the best
Organizational Cultural Assessment
--Surveys of organizational culture
Coaching for Cultural Competence
Individuals and Teams
Some tools: MBTI, FIRO-B, 360 assessment
Teams are increasingly multicultural
Have to manage process, give feedback, create CQ
Value of cross-cultural teams— increase range of expertise and performance, reduce errors
Group stages: forming, norming, storming, performing (Tuckman 1965)
Team-building exercises: challenge exercises, appreciative inquiry with teams
Appreciative Inquiry Process
A.I. as a change process for building cultural competence in organizations
Understanding the organization’s existing culture (inner dialogue)
Understanding how this org. culture/dialogue works to resist change
Change the stories (that anchor the culture) in order to change the inner dialogue.
Works with organizations and teams
A brief culture assessment (handout)
Poetics of Diversity
“ What sets worlds in motion is the interplay of differences, their attractions and repulsions. Life is plurality, death is uniformity. By suppressing differences and peculiarities, by eliminating civilizations and cultures, progress weakens life and favors death. The ideal of a single civilization for everyone, implicit in the cult of progress and technique, impoverishes and mutilates us. Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life” Octavio Paz, The Labryinth of Solitude
Midwest Center for Cultural Competence, LLC www.mcculturalcompetence.com 608.251.4726
Cultural Intelligence, by D.C. Thomas and K. Inkson, 2003
Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace, by L. Beamer and I. Varner, 2001
Appreciative Inquiry Handbook, by D. Cooperrider, D. Whitney and J.M. Stavros, 2003.