Book Review “The Learner’s Journey – Storytelling as a Design Principle to Create Powerful Learning Experiences.” Written by Bastian Küntzel Review by Matthew Hill

“Identity is the story we tell ourselves”

Bastian Küntzel, Interculturalist, trainer and volunteer, has pushed himself to produce a practical book, that reflects its subject matter, is fit for purpose, and, keeps the audience engaged all the way to the end. Just like a good story.

Success – The book works. Imagine if this tome had failed to keep the reader turning the pages or left the trainer / coach / presenter more confused than when they started!

A journey to wisdom

Tone – The author adopts an intimate style with self-deprecation, revealing honesty and scattered references to Hollywood films that we all know – Harry Potter, Die Hard, Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, etc. We are drawn into this cosy fireside chat (the worked examples in the book’s appendix include old barns and wood burning stoves to add to this feeling), as we begin to join Bastian in his story and journey.

With references to the works of Daniel Kahneman, Joseph Campbell and Yuval Noah Harari, the author provides evidence that he has read widely, dived deep, and, is up to date with his sources and research. The authors are sited in footnotes at the bottom of each relevant page. A bibliography at the end would have been a nice addition.

He deconstructs their models to form his own philosophy around identity, learning, motivation and change, and, does so in a clear, rational and appealing manner.

The Hero’s Journey – We start with the 17 common elements of all stories as collected, analysed and explained by the great Joseph Campbell. With liberal reference to George Lucas who famously used Campbell’s schema to produce the most successful film franchise in the history of cinema – Star Wars, we understand why Bastian adapted the title of Campbell’s most famous work and named the book – The Learner’s Journey.

We then move to Dan Harmon’s updated and truncated model with 8 phases of the voyage.

1. Protagonist

2. Need

3. Go

4. Search

5. Find

6. Take

7. Return, &,

8. Change

The supposition is that this universal structure, found all over the world, in all cultures and throughout time, provides a robust template for training design.

To prove this point, the author spends the rest of the book matching Harmon’s stages to the student’s learning journey and suggests activities, criteria and pitfalls for each step along the way. This unique approach aims to help the classroom pupil to change, transfer and re-integrate into their workplace.

There are some fun moments – The holding of a “Fuck-up” night during an off-site multi-day training – A sort of improv, open mic session where story telling on the theme of how it all went wrong leads to bonding, positive vulnerability and the parking of egos for the duration of the course.

Criticism – Whilst the book is a light, informative and a well-intentioned effort – the model does not always fit the facts, the training purpose, or, the audience. The 3 examples at the end mostly fit but do not 100% conform to the stages of Harmon.

Audience – This book will appeal to those trainers, facilitators, teachers and coaches, that have enough experience to be able to put together a course for themselves – A beginner may be overwhelmed by having to adapt to the various stages and resign, disheartened.

Personally, I identified with the stages and found myself beginning to brainstorm activities and exercises that would fit the 8 parts and found plenty of ideas to insert into each stage.

Conclusion – This is a clean, simple and useful book that will help the passionate trainer, looking to improve or perfect their design craft to take their classroom delegate’s experience to the next level.

There are enough warnings and sorry tales contained within the pages too to act as a vicarious instruction manual for the newer designer.

All in all, The Learner’s Journey is a recommended read for the progressive and open-minded trainer who wishes to gain entry to the hearts and minds of their audience, move them emotionally, and, achieve a learning transformation that is worth reading about.

The book is accompanied by a resource centre – www.learners-journey.com and is available in Kindle and paper form.

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How to get out from behind the desk and shake your marketing booty to create a minor book marketing sensation (and justify all the pain and suffering of writing the book in the first place.) The Numbers Over 97% of … Continue reading

“I Want To Write A Book But I Feel Completely Overwhelmed!” – Where Do I Start? – A Beginner’s Guide To Authoring Your First Book – By Matthew Hill #writing #author #bookwriting #action

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Book Review DIY Mediation – The Conflict Resolution Toolkit Book by Marc Reid – Review by Matthew Hill

Kill the monster whilst it is small

Marc Reid has produced something of substantial value to the wider business (and intercultural) community.

Context

The old world of HR seemed to recoil from conflict and wished to avoid all drama, only to be called back to the matter when things had escalated to a level requiring on the record, expensive and time consuming action – mainly tribunals and litigation.

Mediation and pre mediation intervention aims to kill the monster whilst it is small, keep the proceedings off the record, and, allow marginal characters to gain a voice and have their say when they are feeling aggressed, disrespected or bullied.

Easy to read and easy to apply

The book has a gentle gradient, starting with what is conflict, the stages of escalation, observed behaviours and their consequences, and, peaking with the AGREE model – a process that can be used to grab hold of the issues in an intelligent way, and, move the parties towards resolution quickly, and with minimal cost, time and residue left at the end.

Models

Marc has made a sometimes complex subject easy to follow and easy to apply. He breaks down larger topics with handy acronyms and provides completely pragmatic advise on those hard to reach areas such as remaining free of judgment and partiality. My two favourites were the 3FsFacts, Feeling and Future (when exploring the circumstances of a conflict) and the HEAR method for assertive communication – Happening – establishing events on a timeline, Effect – describing impact, Acknowledge – outlining the scenario from your point of view, and, Request – stating what you, as a mediator, would like to happen next.

Written in plain English and aimed at the average corporate HR professional, this tome will be of use to anyone in business or in a broader organisation who wishes to grasp the nettle of conflict, grow their own competence and awareness in holding challenging conversations, and, who is passionate about ethical early interventions to prevent exhausting escalations in the workplace.

No book is perfect and Marc has walked into the Mehrabian trap – taking this model as an example of how little language conveys in communication. (Mehrabian himself went to great lengths to correct this misapprehension.)

Conclusion

The book provides an accessible and vital tool for HR professionals and a wider audience who wish to move from avoidance to a more collaborative and inclusive approach to handling conflict, and, who wish to pick up and use a no nonsense approach to get the job of conflict reversal in hand in their organisation.

About the reviewer – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, speaker, author and coach working to build collaboration in international teams for the SME and Corporate sector.

Purchase

To buy the book go to Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/DIY-Mediation-Conflict-Resolution-Toolkit/dp/1785893114/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1540458765&sr=8-1&keywords=diy+mediation+reid

“Coaching with career and AI in mind” A new book by Coach and Interculturalist, Adina Tarry.

Finding your space, being resourceful and keeping optimism in this expanding digital age.

This intense and packed book attempts to bring together a cross-disciplinary view linking the individual to the wider context of the modern digital world, as we face new challenges and opportunities in our working life, in a world in flux, impacted by technology and at the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution.

screen-shot-2018-08-02-at-08-43-58.png

Coaching with Careers and AI in Mind.

Adina Tarry shares with us her experiential findings from more than 2500 hours of coaching with over 600 individuals. She explores key themes such as: personality, invisible drivers and values, age, personal branding and working internationally. Tarry employs research and scientific models to support her experiential findings. Probably the most useful part of the book is her digest of a large body of research on the wide impact of artificial intelligence and robotics, not only on work but also on education, governance, regulation, society and capitalism itself. All this is pitched at the individual, outlining their options in this wider system.

No book is perfect and this one could be seen as overly ambitious, attempting to tackle a vast array of subjects in a limited space.

How does it end?

The last chapter, far from being pessimistic, presents a constructive view of the future, shouts out a call to action and contains an optimistic message for the building of a resilient and flexible self, able to work through the changes and volatility that is coming.

Adina seems to have softened some theory and case studies to make the book readable, digestible and applicable. The narrative is in plain language making it accessible to both interculturalists and a wider audience – students to professionals, coaches, parents and HR practitioners and psychologists – anyone who takes an active interest in the way their working life is going to change in the future.

Overall, Adina Tarry’s book provokes thought and feeling in equal measure and is a practical tome that will certainly help those helping others or whom, personally, are moving through transition or doubt in their careers.

Getting the book

Follow this link: https://www.routledge.com/Coaching-with-Careers-and-AI-in-Mind-Grounding-a-Hopeful-and-Resourceful/Tarry/p/book/9781782205838

About the Author.

Adina Tarry is a Romanian born Coach and Interculturalist, who having lived in 5 countries, now works in London.

Coach and Interculturalist Adina Tarry

Leading Across Cultures in Practice – by Fernando Lanzer Book Review

How resolving our differences shapes our culture

This book represents an overview of the differences between national cultures, and how those differences influence people’s behaviour in business, management, and, in work situations in general. The book manages to develop beyond simple work etiquette and a list of “do’s and don’ts.” Rather, it looks at the underlying values that determine how managers deal with their direct reports, how people communicate at work, what is considered a priority and what tends to be put on the back burner according to each country culture. All of this is communicated in an easy style that is not too academic or technical.

Lanzer Book Cover

Lanzer starts with a panoramic description of the basic concepts describing culture and how interest in the topic has grown due to globalization. He focuses on five of Hofstede’s dimensions and explains why he stops there and leaves out the others.

The book contains a valuable resource for trainers and intercultural enthusiasts – 150 pages describing real-life practical examples gathered from six countries that represent different types of cultures: the US and UK (Anglo Saxon cultures), Germany (Germanic cultures), the Netherlands (Dutch-Scandinavian cultures), China (Asian cultures) and Brazil (African and Latin American cultures).

These sections contain relevant stories that are directly transferable, though they could be better balanced: the section on the United States is more extensive than the part covering the UK for example.

No book is perfect and another book on dimensions and essentialism is not on the top of anyone’s list for urgent reading. And this book does not present new research, new data, or anything moving beyond culture value dimensions as an approach to understanding culture.

Near the end of the book, the author addresses some of the critical issues often raised in discussions with workshop participants: the relationship between culture values and religion and the dilemmas that each culture seeks to resolve. Lanzer has some slick and functional answers and concludes that these dilemmas are universal: what differentiates one culture from another is the way they find to resolve their main, contrasting issues.

Who should read this book?

The book will be of special interest to those getting acquainted with the topic of culture and diversity, and who seek a plain speaking and clear approach to the culture dimensions model as introduced by Professor Geert Hofstede.

Amazon link to buy the book;

https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Across-Cultures-Practice-Fernando/dp/1977620574/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509106338&sr=8-1&keywords=Leading+Across+Cultures+in+Practice

About the Author

Author Lanzer

Fernando Lanzer Pereira de Souza is a Dutch Brazilian psychologist and consultant who worked in AMRO Banco Real in HR & L&D in Brazil.

He founded the leadership and OD consulting firm LCO Partners 10 years ago with his wife Jussara who is also a psychologist and consultant.

He travels the world servicing his clients and visiting his four daughters who live on different Continents. Fernando is a former member and Chair of AIESEC International’s Supervisory Group. He now sits on the Board of Trustees of ISA – the International School of Amsterdam.

Why You Should Write a Book in 2019

Scribble yourself credible with Matthew Hill

When I look at the regular readers of the Intercultural Training Channel blog and newsletter, I recognise it least 40 authors. These heroes have made the decision to write a book and to get it published. They are people who stand out from the crowd. They tend to have a higher social media presence, are more involved with credible organisations and, probably, they charge a premium for their time and work.

Vintage red typewriter with blank paper

Making the decision to start – That is the tricky bit.

So what is stopping you?

When I speak to coaches and trainers at conferences and congresses and ask them why they aren’t more involved in writing to promote their message, I hear a narrow and repeating collection of responses.

“I am not a good writer”,” I haven’t got the time”,” I’ve got nothing original to say”, ”everything’s been said on my subject already” or, ” I lack the discipline to complete a book.”

The problem with self-limiting beliefs is they turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

In this piece I want to give you a nudge by pointing out some of the benefits of being a published author.

The Benefits of Authorship

  1. The credibility of authorship despite social media, video cameras, and the ever-increasing number of opportunities to present in public, having your own book still carries more weight than just about anything else. When it comes to leveraging your brand, accessing opportunities and being taken seriously as an expert in your field, a book is critical. Many TV shows, and radio stations, will ONLY interview people who have published a book. When you tell people you have written a book, they hesitate and then treat you in a completely different way. It is one of the few things, that creates almost instant credibility and differentiation.
  2. Opening doors whilst you sleep a book, once released and roaming free in the world, tirelessly works for you – converting strangers into acquaintances and admirers into screaming, raving fans who are happy to advocate your genius. Think of your book as an advertising billboards or hoardings, shining out like a beacon in all parts of the world, and hailing you as a key person of influence. James Joyce describes a stranger as being a friend that you have yet to meet. This is the magic of a book. It is a stranger converter.
  3. Your calling card successful author and informational product creator, Peter Thomson, says that going into a meeting and bringing a published book out of your bag, is a reliable method for testing the temperature and anticipating the intentions of the people sitting around the meeting table. If they treat your tome with respect, deference and interests, your business relationship will be a constructive one. If they put their cup of coffee on it, you may as well pack up and leave early – They are not going to fully appreciate your value.
  4. Credo there are millions of people out there, many of whom will never work with you. Likewise there are a few hundred people who would really benefit from collaborating and accessing your expertise. A book filters out the wrong people and warms up the right ones, generating a healthy interest and qualifying them in by helping them to understand what you stand for before they become motivated to get in contact with you. Think of a book as an elaborate filtering system saving you many unsuccessful blind dates, pointless meetings and expensive journeys.
  5. Intellectual property the discipline of writing a book centres on finding a structure to hang and place all of your thoughts and feelings. One of the best ways to do this is to construct a model – the 4P’s of marketing by Philip Kotler is a great example of a structure that resonates well with a wide audience. The discipline of forming a model will play to your advantage as a communicator. It makes your message accessible to a specific target audience and becomes a vital pillar helping to establish your professional brand.
  6. Your book is management consultancy Following on from 5. A good book takes the reader on a journey. Questions are asked, thoughts are experienced and, at the end, the reader may understand their lack, gap, space and pain with a new clarity. It is the uncovering and clarifying of the reader’s need that will propel them to get in contact with you and to engage at a deeper level.
  7. Your book is a publicity generator linked to 1. A book can generate keynote speech invitations, magazine interviews and qualified warm business meetings. Here you will be provided with a platform to convert the book’s message into a critical speech, a pitch or interactive audience session that will generate income, interest and progress.

A final thought

In this post, I have attempted to briefly outline the extraordinary benefits of completing your writing and publishing process. For many people it is about making a decision to start. It is about owning your expert area and it is about putting a structure in place to shape your many thoughts. After writing your book, there follows a complex procedure of publishing and promoting that makes the writing of the book seem like one of the smaller parts of the project.

If you commit to this process, I know you will enjoy yourself, benefit from the discipline and reflection involved, and reap the rewards of being seen as an expert. The bonus comes from the instant and increased credibility of simply being an author.

Book.

Done it! – There is no better feeling in the world.

Your move – If you have enjoyed this post and find it of value, please forward it to other budding authors. Please like and, do share in on Social Media.

About the Author – Matthew Hill has written 5 books and helps independent trainers, coaches and mediators to find their voice and start scribbling. Do feel free to get in touch if this post has moved you strongly to pick up a pen – matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com

Ready when you are (CULTURALLY SPEAKING)

A review of “Intercultural Readiness” written by Dr. Ursula Brinkmann and Dr. Oscar van Weerdenburg published by Palgrave MacMillan, May 2014.

Review written by Matthew Hill

 

Intercultural readiness

Intercultural readiness

Does this book constitute evidence of good teamwork, high intercultural competence and the completion of a demanding task in a diverse context? These are the questions that popped into my mind when turning though the pages.

That two people can collaborate based on many year’s work supported by a large body of data and yet manage to compress the resulting output to a tome of 197 effectively written pages may suggest positive answers to at least some of questions above.

Based on the International Readiness Check questionnaire developed by the authors, Brinkmann and van Weerdenburg, detail the premise of their work and make a bold claim – that cultural knowledge, in-group charm and good fortune are not enough to ensure the emergence of healthy diverse teams, the smooth passage of a new company in foreign lands or that a diverse team will outshine a homogeneous one.

Referencing their own cultural experiences and those from their network of associates and telling representative stories from some of the “larger than life” executives they have encountered in the last 20 years, the authors build a case for considering 4 essential cultural competencies;

  • Intercultural Sensitivity – Being mindful – cultural awareness and paying attention to signals.
  • Intercultural Communication – Active listening and adapting communication styles.
  • Building Commitment – Strengthening relationships and reconciling stakeholder needs.
  • Managing Uncertainty – Openness to cultural diversity, tolerance of ambiguity and exploring new approaches.

“Intercultural Readiness” also refers to the reconciliation work of Dr. Fons Trompanaars and moves beyond country etiquette and the dimensions of difference to include leadership, self-development and plenty of business oriented psychological research on culture, teams and diversity.

I smiled as, in a few places, the text resembled a graduate dissertation in psychology with references to a large number of organisational psychologists offering succinct summaries of their findings.

In any short book there is always the temptation to include dramatic stories that illustrate a point, offer a clever corrective intervention and, thus, support  one’s favoured model. These tend to frequently conclude with a positive outcome.

As with many psychological papers, the chosen examples seem to distill a simple answer from the chaotic cloud of international commercial reality.

Balancing this, the authors are up-front about the limits of diverse teams and how, without the management of emotion and interaction, they can easily be less effective than homogeneous ones. There are plenty of warnings included to help the young team leader find a safer path in managing their diverse teams.

Who should read this book?

If you are a tired and jaded HR partner, a habituated intercultural trainer or a coach, this book will lift your spirits with its wit, abundant references and intelligent analysis.

If you are a commercial leader with little regard for statistics you may, however, choose to skim over the more analytical parts in the second half of the work.

This book opens the door on the International Readiness rationale and helps readers to decide upon the merits of this way of thinking.

The book’s key findings are that culturally diverse teams can engender great task accomplishment but that the emotional and relational strains often deter team members from joining forces on subsequent projects. Alleviating this problem can be achieved by including team members that have a developed competence for managing uncertainly. This, it is argued, can prevent the newly formed team splitting into two or more subgroups, from which unity cannot easily emerge.

Also, ratings of personal satisfaction in diverse teams can be much lower than in the cosier environment of a homogeneous team.

With a blue print for things to watch out for within a corporation and when leading a diverse team, this book represents an approach to culture, coaching and competence that is hard to beat for pithy wisdom, peer based analysis and wide referenced sources. Its subtle depth is balanced by an enjoyably readable style.

It is enough to help you continue to believe in your diverse commercial team.

Buy Intercultural Readiness at Amazon; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intercultural-Readiness-Competencies-Working-Multinational/dp/1137346973/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402243074&sr=8-1&keywords=intercultural+readiness+brinkmann

The reviewer, Matthew Hill, is an author, cultural facilitator, a past president of SIETAR UK, and founder of the Intercultural Training Channel.