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Leveraging for value through cultural conflict

Resolve cultural conflict? Smooth things over? Why? This is a waste of potential creative power. By using the energy inherent in cultural conflict, it is possible to leverage the differences for added value.

Leo Salazar

on 23 November 2010

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Transcript of Leveraging for value through cultural conflict

Differences/conflicts = added value
The Method
Doing Something
What mapping could our
team lead have done?
Have you ever been in this situation?

The Benefits

The Costs
Limited access to new markets
Loss of creative power
Loss of new insights
Disenfranchised employees
Higher personnel turnover
Define the territory
Draw the map
Assess the terrain
No mapping?
No individual treatment
Prepare the ground
Decenter to the other shore
Recenter to span
Manage participation
Resolve disagreements
Build on ideas
Understanding the differences
Communicate, take differences into account
Bring together and leverage the differences
The investment
who am I?
what resources do I have?
what is my position?
what authority do I have?
in other words: am I ready for this challenge?
But first . . .
Cultural differences provide the greatest potential to hinder effective interaction within teams. Conversely, because of the nature of culture, cultural differences also provide the greatest potential for creating value.

Multicultural teams have an enormous wealth of material with which to create innovative approaches to complex organizational challenges, and a great range of operating modes with which to develop new ways of implementing solutions.

Today’s business cannot flourish without the creative value afforded by high-performing global teams. We’ve seen these unique teams create value by bringing highly successful products to market in record time, achieving quantum leaps in cost savings in a price-competitive industry, inventing new types of alliances with global suppliers and clients, and moving successfully into territory that others have been unable to conquer.

How were these teams different than others? Different membership? On average, their members weren’t any better in their individual areas than those on the destroying or equalizing teams.
3 types of global teams:
1) destroyers
2) equalizers
3) creators
Social costs
Business Cases
new markets
engaged colleagues
new solutions
It speaks to all possible communities at once. The material scientists like graphene. The theorists like the Dirac fermions, then there’s quantum Hall people, who also cite it. It’s really, really interdisciplinary . . . [but the drawback is] we had to make the paper understandable and interesting to all of them.
"Friday evening" experiments
Mapping, Bridging, Integrating
Frustration about staff speaking other languages on the job
Resistance to working with members of another ethnic, racial, or cultural group
Miscommunication due to limited or heavily accented language
Ethnic or racial slurs or jokes
Charges of discrimination in promotions, pay, and performance reviews
Little or no social interaction between members of different groups
Recruitment and retention difficulties
Discontent due to perceived favoritism
Negative comments about the work habits of members of other groups
Insufficient participation at staff meetings
Limited input from members' specific groups
Lack of diversity at all levels
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions
Power distance
Masculinity vs. femininity
Uncertainty avoidance
Confucian dynamism (time)
Epoché: a temporary suspension of the truth of one's own conviction.

"Without suspension, discussion is pointless; without conviction, there is nothing at stake"
- Theo de Boer
Recenter to span: finding or developing shared ground upon which to build a new basis of interacting. For example: defining our terms: “what’s a meeting for?” Members of the team need to agree on the norms of the team, and continue to revisit the questions. The more diverse the team, the more important is to continue the dialogue. It’s okay to have different norms for different members. The understanding that the mapping brings is what allows the team to function.
Integrating is where understanding (from mapping) + communication (from bridging) come together into concrete results.
- Manage participation: find different ways to elicit contributions. Vary modes of meeting and sharing information. Don’t lose the assets.
- Resolving disagreements to increase leverage. Mapping helps anticipate and detect conflict before it becomes full blown; bridging helps communication to allow openness, builds trust and comfort among team members. When participation is managed well, information is introduced when it is needed, not afterwards.
- Build on ideas for optimal leverage. Use techniques for idea generation: brainstorming, Delphi technique and nominal group technique (NGT). Resist temptation to compromise. Give plenty of room and opportunity for new ideas to be generated instead of conflict and frustration. Compromise buries the idea before it hatches.
Who's Killing the Bees?
But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own.

“Together we could look at things nobody else was looking at,” said Colin Henderson, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s College of Technology and a member of Dr. Bromenshenk’s “Bee Alert” team.
Close Teamwork
X = Number of teams
Y = Performance
Cultural differences in crewmembers and mission control personnel during two space station programs (MIR/ISS)
Define the territory: what characteristics will we be looking at? Which are likely to cause difficulties? Standard assessments: IRC, MBTI, RT Diversity Paradigms, Leadership Development Profile, etc. can give framework, depending on what dimensions are being focused on.
Draw the map: each team member assesses their characteristics according to the dimensions selected. Creates a specific profile on each individual member
Assess the terrain: use the map to help understand past, current and future potential dynamics.
- Prepare the ground: team members need 1) motivation to make changes and 2) the confidence to to overcome difficulties. Motivation must always be tied to team goals. Can, and should, be reinforced by senior management, but it goes without saying that the team must be self-empowered.
6 Simple Rules for Effective Global Team Management
Build on team values
Create ambassadors
Open communication
Direct communication
Simple techniques
Insert Fleming 2004
Culture manifested
Full transcript