SIETAR EUROPA DUBLIN CONGRESS REPORT

What really happened? – An opinion piece by Matthew Hill

As IC trainers, coaches and academics return from the SIETAR Congress in Dublin, we remember some of the highlights?

SIETAR Key Note 400+ People Attended the SIETAR Congress in Dublin, May 2017

With more than 400 attendees it was the biggest event since Granada (when we were joined by the mighty SIETAR USA.) An impressive focus on professionalism and detail delivered a technically advanced event at a top of the range venue – St Pats (Dublin City University) in Ireland has been transformed, enlarged and made relevant, providing an impressive and functional backdrop to the show. With fresh paint, bright colours and a modern social area and the addition of a professional conference organisation crew, this was SIETAR at its slickest, its most efficient and its best.

Special mention must be made of Pari, Barbara and Joe. Their 18 months of hard work, stress, decision-making and perseverance has paid off. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And the 12 volunteers – A great bunch of dynamic and pro active interculturalists working diligently to produce a memorable audience experience and calm the nerves of the presenters, some of whom had never seen a touchscreen interactive whiteboard before!

Whova logo Keeping us in touch

The Whova app assisted in bringing everybody together, warning us of logistical changes and generally connecting people, before the event, during the busy main days and, now, as we go back to our many countries and various other roles.

Lolo Mayer Lolo Mayer moved us with his story

We were lucky with the weather and there were some extraordinary moments to take away. Those who saw Lolo Mayer when he spoke will never forget the present and direct moment when this articulate 9 year old told us of his journey from South Africa to Germany and the reactions the people around him – “different race – same culture”. His honest narrative moved us to tears. A special experience.

Milton Bennett brought along an expert in Mysticism – A ripple of hesitation flickered through the full room. As the modestly cynical crowd began their hypnotic meditation submerging beach balls under water, a new line was crossed in SIETAR experiential learning and most of us came out of the exercise better and wiser practitioners.

A third highlight was Andra and Abbey in their WorldWork Trust session – The facilitation was excellent and the atmosphere was conducive to movement, exchange and a worthy end result for all.

SIETAR Openning Joe Kearns Opens SIETAR Dublin

I must mention the stars of my own film track – Having coerced two local heroes – Dave Walsh and Joe Kearns into attempting culturally relevant and difficult topics, they both more than rose to the challenge – Dave interpreting the cultural significance of “Father Ted” in the context of real events in the Priesthood in Ireland and Joe, with his deep knowledge of Irish and European Viking history, linking this eloquently to the successes and failures of mergers in business and highlighting the choice between cultural domination and cultural integration.

Seitar Crowd SIETARians Deep in Conversation

And a big thank you to everyone for forming a surprisingly large crowd at my Training films clips session – It was rewarding to see so many people getting fully engaged with the subject and the content.

Shock

It would not be a real congress report without one or two negative points to report on. A moan that was heard frequently around the Congress concerned the quality of some presenters when attempting to get their message across. On occasion we seemed to have regressed to pre-Valencia days. Many witnessed poor wordy PowerPoints, over emphasis on research methods vs practical application and a failure by presenters to project, engage or hold their audience’s attention. There were many many TED style talks that were far far removed from the slick professionalism of the real thing. (I will take up the topic of presentation crimes in a separate post next time.)

MariaJicheva Maria Jicheva

The drama of the Congress ended with a moving tribute to one of the pillars of SIETAR – Maria Jicheva who died two years ago. She had run and expanded SIETAR UK and SIETAR Europa with years of hard hard work and used her subtle style of influence to make it the success that is evident today. We heard stories and experienced strong felt emotion remembering her effect upon those who were fortunate enough to spend time in her presence. Maria – We know you are watching over us – The success of the SIETAR Dublin Congress in 2017 is a tribute to you, your values and the volume of work you put in. Thank you.

Where next?

We will see you all in Vienna (Just a GUESS at the next venue…)

Traditional mountain farm in the Alps

Advertisements

The Making of Donald Trump’s Mind

An Opinion Piece by German / American Interculturalist Patrick Schmidt

Back in the “Golden ’fifties”, the world was in awe of the American Way of Life. Elvis Presley, the Fleetwood Cadillac and “from dishwasher to millionaire” all reflected the culture. Fulfilling desires was a perfect response to life’s challenges and the formula quickly spread around the world.

Business Education Group

But this perception has changed radically since Trump’s election. The U.S. is no more seen as a model for the rest of the world, with Donald Trump’s shallow intellect, public bullying, disdain for facts, and nihilistic decision-making in the service of an us-against-them celebration of “America First”.

“America First” means only a certain America. Ironically, it resembles the media images alluded to above — TV from 50 years ago. Blacks, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, immigrants of any kind are virtually invisible, as are homosexuals and anyone else seen as too different to fit in (hippies, socialists, atheists, the handicapped).

Donald Trump personifies a sizable segment of “Middle America”, people who avoid complicated questions, prefer simple answers and some form of instant gratification. This gradually withers the ability to think beyond an elementary — and subjective —worldview. Hence, the preference to bomb the hell out of anybody who doesn’t agree with us rather than spending time reconciling complex problems.

But what have been the cultural factors that created such a self-absorbed, ignorant wannabe showman and allowed him to get to the number one position in American society?

Donald Trump, like myself, learned early that what made the country unique was that it was the “land of the free”. Citizens were free to be and do what they wanted — it was a nation of unlimited opportunities, a beacon for people all over the world, which rebelled against the traditions of the Old World and greeted new ideas with enthusiasm.

One in particular was Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy that if man decided to believe in the good of others, society would become highly efficient and dynamic because trusting people would eliminate the time-consuming process of doubting and judging. It was exactly what America needed to develop itself; when building a nation, decisions have to be made quickly. “Time is money.”

This simplistic notion of life ignores complexity and nuance and has created the typical American trait of being unsentimental, inherent in a people wishing to break away from the past and march into the unknown. It also paved the way to a certain superficiality in human relations, which magnified itself with increased material prosperity.

Rich natural resources, Yankee ingenuity and shrewdness, few real historical tragedies, and militant individualism, all in the “pursuit of happiness”. It’s no wonder America transformed itself into the most powerful and influential country in the world. The belief that anyone could evolve from “rags to riches” allowed millions of poor immigrants to move up the social ladder. These were the seeds that gave birth to the “happy ending” myth.

This belief, however, sends the childish message that good guys always win and bad guys lose. That’s all fine and dandy for a 10-year-old but when a complicated problem arises, Americans often refuse to see it from every aspect. This is the result of always wanting to believe in the inherent good of everything. When TV was introduced in the 50s, it reinforced this mindset.

By the time Trump hit television in 2004 with his ersatz “reality show”, things were far more cynical. TV had long been used to transform complex issues into superficial images but “The Apprentice” went one step further. It was a Roman circus spectacle for peasants in which a series of victims are humiliated (“You’re fired!”) over the course of a season before one winner is crowned…and given a job. Trump’s audience saw the process like a sports contest, mirroring a simple-minded attitude toward life.

 

Donald_Trump_2013_cropped_more

“The Apprentice” provides us a look at Donald Trump’s idea of reality. (Photo Wikipedia)

Now that he’s in the White House, Trump prefers watching cable TV to reading government reports and meeting with advisers. Not only does he not read newspapers, he gets most of his worldview from Fox News reports, which pander to the people who voted for him.

But how has this numbness to real survival issues come about? Excessive material wealth, technology and consumerism may provide a clue.

At the end of WW II, the U.S. found itself in a unique position in the world — unlike Europe and Asia, its massive production facilities were virtually untouched. It converted its manufacturing potential into peace-time goods and catapulted the country into a consumer paradise of unbelievable dimensions.

Add to this the technological revolution, which has profoundly altered our ways of feeling and thinking. Take the pocket calculator, for example. At first glance, it saves an enormous amount of time and frees you from laborious mental calculations. What we forget is that it leads us one step further toward non-involvement.

The long-term consequences of passively consuming technological goodies (from TV to the iPad) have slowly resulted in a couch-potato lifestyle, exemplified by Homer, star of “The Simpsons”.

Worship for both consumerism and technology creates insecurity by sheltering us from real-life experiences. We notice far too late that our thinking and judgment have gradually diminished. This is clearly noticeable when you meet a person who exclaims “wow” as a reflex but can’t explain why. One gets the feeling that this person doesn’t want to pursue the thought any further and is perhaps unable to communicate in any real depth. A high degree of non-involvement often generates a half-developed personality.

Trump’s rallies, both before his election and since, regularly feature primal chanting and barely-disguised racist themes. Trump’s own speech patterns are similar, as well as the lack of detailed thought. As Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

In the early ‘70s, I already sensed the symptoms of a non-involved lifestyle. Growing up in the southern California, I experienced the era of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”, pushed to the extreme. California was engrossed with hedonic “wow” pleasures and far more advanced in material consumerism than the rest of the country.

The Eagles’ song “Hotel California” articulates this perfectly. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I knew a society couldn’t last long if its highest goal was only that of continuous pleasure.

Hotelcalifornia.jpg

The Eagles’ worldwide hit describes a consumer society gone amok. (Photo Wikipedia)

Those were the conditions when I left the country at 23 and ended up in Stuttgart by sheer accident. It was such a sharp human contrast — Germans were still recovering from the horrors of WW II and displaying unusually sincere feelings. Human interactions were more real and done with the goal of the betterment of the community. It was like living in the States in the late 1930s as the country was coming out of the Great Depression.

Two generations later, Germany and most other western European countries enjoy a high standard of living but are showing signs of social fatigue, though not to the extent that we see in the U.S.

Each generation of humans has to face circumstances not of its own choosing, where character is measured and spirit is tested. In the last 70 years, the American mindset has embraced an almost magical consumer lifestyle. Many people live a make-believe existence, where real crises can be denied and reality is replaced by a virtual world of memes, tweets, Facebook.

In a fragmented, attention-challenged America, Donald Trump has now become, if not the norm, the President.

Patrick Schmidt Author About the Author – Patrick Schmidt is an intercultural trainer, past President of SIETAR Europa and author of such books as; Understanding American and German Business Cultures (1999) and In Search of Cultural Understanding (2007).

Intercultural Competencies Summer School – Utrecht University, Netherlands with Jackie and Yvonne

21st to 25th August 2017 ( 5 Days) – Share your Dreams

Wharf level night view of Oudegracht canal in the old city centre of Utrecht, Netherlands

Are you interested in working internationally? This course will support you in operating effectively across (international) borders. In the course you will get familiar with theories to understand culture as a concept, cultural differences and you will develop your own intercultural competences. During the course you will reflect on the following four intercultural competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty by using the Intercultural Readiness Check©. Additionally you will develop skills, bring these into practice and acquire also insight in your personal behaviour. After this course you will be able to operate more effectively in different contexts

As we all know, performing well in one’s own familiar context or culture doesn’t automatically equal studying or working effectively in an international context and/or in a diverse team. Even though we live and work in an increasingly globalized world, in which we seems to look, sound and think more and more alike, we are faced with deep layers of cultural differences. Navigating these differences and being able to cross bridges requires developing these four intercultural competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty.

In this theoretical and highly interactive course you learn how to become more effective by building commitment to cross these differences. In the first place it’s about becoming aware of cultural perspectives and differences. In addition, you learn how to position yourselves in these intercultural dynamics. Also we emphasize on the importance of communicating effectively in an international context whereby many different stakeholders are involved. In this course we approach the concept of intercultural communication not only as communication between people with different nationalities, but also as the interaction between people that may differ in many other, sub-cultural ways, e.g. origin, education, gender, age, sexual orientation. Half way during the course you will bring these competences into practise during the fieldwork exercise outside of the Campus.

With – Jackie van der Kroft, Peter-Ben Smit,  Yvonne van der Pol & Nicole Kienhuis

To register click on the link;

https://www.utrechtsummerschool.nl/?code=C47&type=application

12 Training Film Clips – Culture, Leadership and Teams – Resources For Your Classroom

Training Resource Films – Intercultural Exchange, Diversity in Work, Leadership and Coaching, Conflict and Debate & the Power of the Individual in Business.

12 Films to use in your classroom

12 Films to use in your classroom

1, Wild Tales (2014) 6 Tales of Revenge. Directors – Pedro Almadova & Damian Szifran

Training Themes; Revenge, risk taking, morality in business and relationships

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNURIZWLm1M&list=PLhbb3wdghNhRk69plSRI2BMy5aXING4G-&index=1

2, The BP Coffee Spill – Humourous Metaphor – UCB Comedy Channel Team

Training Theme – Introducing a difficult topic into the training room.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AAa0gd7ClM

3, Morning Glory (2010) – First Meeting Scene – Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton. Directed by Roger Michell

Training Themes; Multi – Focus orientation, assumptions about youth, change, active listening, testing authority & managing in chaos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWrw5ogawS8

4, Recursos Humanos (2013) Rosio Manzano, Xavier Pamies, Director Juan Alvarez Llados

Training Themes, Sexual harassment, trading favours, wielding power and gender assumptions, bias and prejudice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS7PM9AUFjQ

5, Deloitte Diversity & Inclusion in Business (2015) Deloitte University Press

Training Theme – Diversity, inclusion, values in business

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G0OUHnCudw

6, House of Cards (2014) Frank Underwood Ruthlessness Kevin Spacey, Netflix

Training Theme – Power, corruption, manipulation & ethics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Ha3IWeXOo

7, Suits – A Different Kind of Power – Donna Poulson – Sarah Rafferty, Netflix

Training Theme – Alternative sources of power, female roles – defined, prescribed and actual in business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfX_lXvi008

8, The Intern (2015) – Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway

Training Theme – Age discrimination & diversity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6p2exVZttE

9, Erin Brokovich (2000) – Julia Roberts, Veanne Cox. Directory Steven Soderburgh – “F*cking Ugly Shoes”

Training Theme – Social status, educational prejudice and the consequences of assumptions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZMg4vFcRQs

10, Andrew Stanton (Writer of Toy Story) – The Clues in the Story TED (2014)

McGregor the…

Training Theme – Reputation, story telling & humour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxDwieKpawg

11, Finding Forrester (2000) Murray F. Abrahams, Rob Brown, Sean Connery. Director – Gus Van Sant

Training Themes; Assumptions about scholarship students and social status,

white privilege, institutional compliance, rules, power & race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSnraJOeOyM

12, Any Given Sunday (1999) – Motivation Speech – Al Pacino. Director – Oliver Stone

Training Themes – Responsibility, consequences, reputation, coaching, leadership, accountability, sacrifice, personal choice, motivation, power & salvation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_iKg7nutNY

Please share and let us spread the word.

A Big thanks to all those that contributed to this list and those that took the time to prepare the work for YouTube.

Intercultural Communicative Competence Conference, Prague, 22nd to 23rd June 2017

Prague

Intercultural Communicative Competence Conference, Prague, June 2017

In the highly competitive environment of the globalised world, higher education necessarily faces ever-present challenges such as linguistic and extra-linguistic communication barriers, cultural stereotyping, cross-cultural prejudices, identity conflicts and/or L2 deficiency, which compound the lack of skills to interact successfully. The acquisition of intercultural communicative competence becomes a key professional skill and a primary success factor for university educators, graduates, and researchers in the field, as well as business professionals, international employers, or HR specialists.

Addressing these concerns, the ICCAGE conference will contribute to the on-going debate on intercultural language/ communicative skills, and various innovative teaching and training approaches to ICC including global mobility, intercultural mediation and telecollaboration, and in and out-of classroom methodologies. The conference will offer an opportunity to share/present experience, develop interdisciplinary networks, and foster cooperation by sharing knowledge and best practices essential for further development and innovation.

Presentations will be on…

  • Perspectives on intercultural language learning/teaching

  • Current theories of language and intercultural communication

  • ICC best practices

  • Innovative ICC content, course activities and materials

  • Tellecolaborative practice and research 

  • Trans-national mobilities

    The conference is free for registered participants thanks to the funding by the Erasmus+ KA2 Programme No 2015-1-CZ01-KA203-013992.

    The conference is held under the auspices of prof. Ing. Petr Konvalinka, CSc, Rector of the Czech Technical University in Prague, and doc. Ing. Lenka Švecová, PhD, Director of MIAS School of Business and Interdisciplinary Studies, Czech Technical University in Prague. Contact: Contact: iccage.conference2017@muvs.svut.cz 

Presentation Disasters and 5 tips to help YOU not make them by Matthew Hill

 

Plug into the audience and let the electricity flow

The gap between a person’s brain, intellect and expertise and their ability to communicate even a small part of this wisdom to an audience can be wider than the Grand Canyon. I remember meeting one of the deepest thinkers on educating people that the UK has ever produced. He was also one of the worst public speakers an audience has ever had to endure. This irony continues to buzz around my mind.

Below are 5 ideas that you can apply to make sure no one says about YOU, “They seem to really know their stuff. It’s a pity their attempt to convey it to the audience is a total failure!”

Smiling newscaster during broadcasting. And here is the news…

  1. It’s not about you – whilst you are the star, standing under the light, mic in hand and dressed to kill, the point of the presentation is to align your information and message to the desired outcomes of the majority of your audience.

Useful questions before you present might be, “What is their level of knowledge?” “What do they expect today?” “What do they want from this session?” And, finally, “What do they really need?”

Before you write a word of your presentation, ask these questions and be mindful of the answers. Also implied in their response is bonus information – What they absolutely DON’T want you to speak about.

Verschiedene Portraits einer blonden Frau

  1. First impressions last – I once tripped over on a stage in Milan in the style of Charlie Chaplin and raised an embarrassingly large laugh from the audience. Unfortunately that was not my intention and things did not flow smoothly from that point on.

An audience will have read your profile and possibly check you out on LinkedIn. They are making an active and tough judgment of you based on your physical appearance. If you are scruffy, ill-prepared to deal with technology, hesitant and showing non-verbal signs of stress, anxiety and fear it is no wonder that the audience will disengage from your private greatness and let their minds wonder to other topics (probably sex and shopping.)

What does it take to make a fantastic first impression?

Dressing one level smarter than your audience, dry cleaning your dark suit, investing in a decent haircut, considering replacing your glasses with contact lenses, practicing Amy Cuddy’s power poses and firing your BIG GUNS first. All of these represent a good start.

Seat on fire

  1. Pleasure or pain? Related to 2. The audience will amalgamate all of the information you are consciously and unconsciously broadcasting and rank you on two exclusive scales.

Power and dominance – your tone, stern look, square shoulders, booming voice and content of doom laden scenarios and facts may give you an impressively high dominance score. Is that what you want?

Likable and trustworthy – A high score on the opposite scale is achieved by displaying charisma, charm, humour, self-deprecation, honesty, integrity and demonstrating your ethical values to the audiences.

Only you can decide which scale is more appropriate your next presentation – Is it time to practice non-verbal charm in the mirror or to rev up your sergeant major impression?

bubble of communication

  1. Words Words Words With everything you say you are either engaging more with the audience or distancing them. You may think that filling your presentation with intellectual complexity, esoteric jargon and obfuscating argot will do the job. Wrong – The simpler you are the more you will connect with the audience and the more they will buy what you are selling.

Speed trumps caution

Many presentation coaches warn that excessive speed of presentation will be perceived negatively. This is not the case (with the caveat that you need an audience speaking the same language as you.) As long as you are clear and loud enough your audience will be taken away by the speed at which you deliver your wisdom. Unlike complexity, speed is perceived as a sign of intelligence.

Fluent slick and smooth

Unsurprisingly, a smooth radio delivery will impress an audience. On occasions it will increase your ratings even when you are having an off day, your brain is addled with tiredness or your mind can only manage to operate at half power.

Listening. “Tell me more”

  1. Everyone loves a story – Every presentation coach is asked what is the best structure for delivering a presentation. It can be a best man speech, a professor’s keynote address at a conference or thanking people at your retirement do. The best way to package information is to give it a familiar dramatic structure – beginning, middle and end, a “V” structure – unleashing tragic chapters that shock your audience followed by an inspiring twist and uplifting ending, or a WW structure like a Dr. Martin Luther King speech that repeatedly takes the audience from the difficult present to a better envisioned future.

Men don’t like emotion.

Whilst there are some coal mining villages where men can only cry if they are one kilometer underground, most humans, irrespective of gender, enjoy having their feelings taken for a spin. It is diverting and stimulating and always will be.

Human Rights

Please respect the human right of your audience not to be bored within an inch of their life. Practice practice practice until you are fluent and can lose yourself in a story that entertains even you, the speaker.

And if you are not a natural comedian, a presentation is not the place to begin your new stand-up career.

Good luck with the next presentation. I hope you WOW the audience and they give you a standing ovation.

Senior Sales and Culture Trainer Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill is an Intercultural Trainer, Author, Speaker and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

What can YOU do at the SIETAR Congress to change your life?

A Guide to the European Intercultural Event of the Year by Matthew Hill     1, Meeting people With up to 360 people attending the SIETAR Congress in Dublin later in May, There is no better opportunity this year to … Continue reading

Hero Round Table – London , 12th, 13th May 2017 – Presented by Katherine Barton

hero

New event coming to London for the first time.

Learn, be inspired, meet a wonderful community of people and hear 20+ speakers from around the world – join 500 others at the Barbican this May for London’s first Hero Round Table!

The Hero Round Table is all about inspiring and showing people how to be more heroic at work, in their community or in the world. It’s coming to the Barbican, London this May.

Maybe we need more everyday and extraordinary heroes in the world. What does ‘hero’ mean to you? How can you personally be more heroic and make a difference when it counts? Join 500 others at the Barbican this May to learn and be inspired by some amazing speakers.

What does it mean to be heroic? How can you have a positive impact on the world, especially when it counts

BREAKING NEWS – An offer for ITC READRS – Use Code CONTRIBUTION – and get CONTRIBUTION – valid until 9th May and offering 40% off 1 or 2-day tickets. 40% off 1 or 2-day tickets. Offer valid until 9th May only.

Visit the London Hero home page; http://bit.ly/2mfd3kV

Katherine Barton (Event Director, London) Katherine@heroroundtable.com

 

Cultural Risk Management – Part I of a new series by Glen Burridge

This is the first of a series of articles where Interculturalist and Earth Scientist Glen Burridge be looking to highlight a topic that confronts us every day in all aspects of our lives and yet is frequently neglected by both organisations and individuals: Cultural Risk Management

Crowd. A large group of people of a white background.

If we have one characteristic as humans that represents both our greatest capability and our greatest weapon it is our ability to self-organise.

In other words, to create cultures.

In these groupings, we become actors in the world, through our organisations, societies, tribes, networks and communities. Through them, we trade and we exchange, we engage in conflict and war and we create things of beauty and value. In doing so, they form the basis of our identities and influence our behaviour at every moment. Some stem back to the origin of our species, while others are bubbling up as we speak.

Culture as Lifeform

We may do our best to romanticise them, especially those identities to whom we belong and find the most meaningful, yet a culture is – at best – no more than a meta-stable life-form. As ambient conditions vary, vulnerable cultures die, a few coalesce, whilst others are born. They are susceptible to changes in the environment, undergoing perpetual fashioning by external challenge and interaction – an analogy with viral behaviour would not be unfair – and our increasing connectivity with each other accelerates this process.

History tells us that cultural ‘entropy’ has operated since our earliest times: As human populations have expanded and come in closer proximity, there is a tendency for any extensive culture to produce homogenisation of society in their image. In order to survive the onslaught, any target community will require strong traits – either of adaptability, invincibility, suitability or to defy the threat by virtue of distance or size. There are moral and practical consequences to what is lost and gained by such an organic course, but it could be argued that this is simply the to-and-fro of natural selection at play; a culture is no more than an elegant ecological solution to a problem at a given time.

Whatever their origins and health, what the human story makes abundantly clear is that the simultaneous greatest threat to our future wellbeing and opportunity for positive development comes from the interaction between cultural groups. This is where interculturalists operate and (ought to) have a capital role to play in our future.

Yes, it really is as important as that.

Limited Space

The Earth, at present our sole home, has a surface area of 510 million square km. That might sound like a lot to you and me, used to possessing only an infinitesimal morsel of that terrain, but of that immense expanse only roughly 20% is habitable. In terms of the volume of our planet, only a fraction of 1% is a survivable biosphere. We are currently adding over 200,000 extra people per day to that space.

It pays for us to get along well with each other.

The Other

Cultures, with their attendant values, motivations and artefacts will come and go, but the perennial question that matters is whether these groupings – and their representatives – are able to find a common basis in which the existence of the Other is not a accompanied by fear. No group is ever going to fire a nuclear warhead deliberately at itself, it will always be at an Other. ‘Civil’ Wars are anything but civil. They entail the disintegration of the façade of a collective identity under exterior pressure or internal reckoning.

Equally, all valuable endeavours we embark on culminate, in some form, in a collective effort. At all scales of our lives, this entails an association of existing bodies, whether they are political, commercial, humanitarian or social. We therefore know we are going to face a myriad of interfaces in much of what we do. We ought to be prepared. Any organisation that neglects the multiple dimensions and effects of culture is ignoring not only its own DNA, but that of the environment it operates in.

Yet, despite a whole field of solutions that now stretch back more than half a century, the risk associated with cultural interactions remains the one we are collectively most reluctant to address in business and in the world at large.

The worst kind of success

The worst kind of failure is when we ignore a critical factor that was staring us in the face all along. The worst kind of success is one achieved without the capacity to repeat it, carrying threats into the very next situation we find ourselves, but now with a perilous confidence, until the moment of drama when we realise we have made a serious misjudgement, when it becomes no longer a risk, but history.

In the following articles, Glen will open up the discussion to explore further dimensions of cultural risk, how deeply it reaches into our lives, society and business, which go far beyond the familiar cultural realm of national identities.

For a discussion of the topics raised in this article and associated blogs, please feel free to get in touch with Glen at; glen@glenburridge.com or via LinkedIn or leave a comment below.

glenEarth Scientist and Interculturalist, Glen Burridge