Discuss how cultural strategic thinking plays a part within your current organization or an organization that you are familiar with

  Discuss how cultural strategic thinking plays a part within your current organization or an organization that you are familiar with.

I work for an IT services company. We implement Enterprise level application solutions for clients across the globe. I have lived and worked In India, Australia and the USA. In Past 6 years, we implemented software solutions for customers in different countries in Europe, Japan, India, Australia and of course the USA. Our work is often client facing and our teams usually have people from a diverse cultural background. Based on their nationality, ethnicity, religion etc. We need to work closely with clients to understand their needs and then to validate and deploy the solution. Our teams often have offshore parts too. According to David Livermore “A diverse workforce, whose members have developed their cultural intelligence, is a more productive workforce and a diverse team with high cultural intelligence will outperform homogeneous teams”. So, all multinationals are focused on cultural awareness and trying to cultivate cultural intelligence among the employees. The organizations I have worked for are no exceptions.

For each member of the team regardless of the role, has to understand cultural strategic thinking that our organization wants us to learn and adapt to. When someone is in customer facing role, strategic thinking becomes useful, as often the client is also coming from a different background and has different values. And these projects do not last forever. Once we complete one project we move on to the next assignment and we get into a new team with new faces within the team and client side. So, one has to constantly adapt to a new place, culture, and people in my organization and often in my industry. 

What two specific cultural strategic thinking techniques have you observed within your team?

Being part of this industry for over a decade now, I have gotten the opportunity to be part of quite a few teams, and I have observed many cultural strategic thinking techniques within my teams. For example – I) Peer Learning II) Gaining Cultural Knowledge III) Finding a Mentor IV) Observing V) Active Listening

But, I have to give only 2, not 5 that I have mentioned above. So, the most common and effective cultural strategic thinking techniques I have observed with my team are

1. Observing and

2. Active Listening.  

Did you see evidence of Cultural Intelligence (CQ)?

            I consider myself lucky for getting to work with some managers with great active listening skill, which is absolutely critical to understand, interpret, reflect and respond and is an evidence of Cultural Intelligence.

Using the article you read and your text discuss some of what you observed, both in terms of positives and deficits and discuss how CQ could have been improved.

             CQ is a system consisting of three interactive components – cultural knowledge, cross-cultural skills and cultural metacognition (IESE Business School, 2015). Like I have mentioned above, I usually work with teams and each team (my own and teams we are working with) usually are very diverse and I have experienced both positive cultural intelligence and deficits. I have come across managers who were empathetic and had great listening skills. And having these skills with a quality like “gaining cultural knowledge” which basically comes from being interested in the other culture works really well in long run. The bond in the team becomes stronger and the team members become really supportive of each other.

            But there are obvious deficits too. Not everyone takes interest in knowing or understanding other cultures. And, coming from India which is a very diverse country with many states and each state having its own culture, language and everything else, it is very difficult for anyone to keep up with the cultural diversity. And the organization often provide a very basic framework which tells us what to do or not to do – for example, you always wear formal attire, do not use curse words, be respectful to everyone and basic things like that. Which are very generalized, although it works I do not think this helps to build a cultural intelligence. For example, I come from the eastern part of India, and we celebrate a festival that lasts for 5 days. North West part of India celebrates a festival of light (known as Diwali) for 2 days. These are during different time periods and the southern part of India has their own festivals. So, any manager who is not very sensitive and empathetic might not realize these different cultures or the differences, that might cause discontent among teammates, especially if the teammate asks for a vacation during his or her festival and the manager does not approve because he does not realize the cultural significance the festival have to his teammate. After I came out of India, I faced a different sort of situation. I will try to give you some examples involving food, so it is easier to understand. About 60% of the Indian population is vegetarian. And usually vegetarians are not very prominent in the USA or Australia, so during team outing or whenever someone order pizza, I have noticed, the vegetarian, being sort of ignored and feels left out and this happens both ways. I am definitely not trying to blame anyone but trying to point out a lack of understanding of a different culture often appears as an obstacle between team members. I believe organizations can encourage peer learning, and to be observant to understand a person from different culture better.

 References: 

Michell, R ( November, 2014). Benefits of cultural intelligence are reflected in work performance. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2014-11-benefits-cultural-intelligence.html

IESE Business School ( March, 2015). Why You Need Cultural Intelligence (And How To Develop It). Retrieved From https://www.forbes.com/sites/iese/2015/03/24/why-you-need-cultural-intelligence-and-how-to-develop-it/#1db268d317d6

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