Managing Challenges Across Cultures describes and documents the path of a complex global organization to multicultural proficiency as designed and implemented by the intercultural consultancy TCO International and Comau, a manufacturer of “automated systems that integrate products, processes and services”. Available as an e-book or hard copy, it is accessible to anyone who wants to learn more about the challenges of adapting to a global business world.
The book has several strengths, the biggest being its case study format. This allows for the reader to experience the project from a bird’s eye view as well as to second-guess TCO and Comau as they develop the project, by reading interviews with key company staff and leadership as well as the consultants themselves, investigate their tools and learn about the company and how it introduces the changes.
The book is clear and thorough, detailing the company context, the players, the key national cultures, strategies and the plan. The interviews also serve to give a more personalized view of a large company’s change process.
In the book, the core mission of the TCO method and indeed of the intercultural world is to resolve the Trilemma (David Tricky, a TCO Director), meaning learning how to
- “remain yourself
- adapt to others
- remain consistent around organizational values and priorities”
“the struggle to balance
and our way”
The Trilemma is referred to throughout the process while showing where this lack of resolution might show up in the organization. For example:
- Cultural preferences when admitting mistakes. Who has learned to admit mistakes? Who has learned to avoid exposure of their mistakes? These behaviors may be culturally learned.
- Talking while others are talking as opposed to maintaining a respectful silence when others talk,
The book details how any of these examples can lead to misunderstandings, the triggering of unconscious biases and the beginnings of conflict. There is an entire section devoted to The Model of Cross-Culture Conflict Styles and how this was implemented in the company.
All in all, the book represents an excellent resource and learning tool for those who are running their own first big international projects and for those curious enough to have their eyes opened to possible cultural blind spots.
About the Reviewer
Jacquelyn Reeves is an American Intercultural Coach, Consultant & Trainer working out of Berlin