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Inspiring Cultural Patterns

cultural patterns

The hidden influence of Cultural Patterns at work

Managers across the globe are taught almost exclusively Western management theories in business schools. Yet people living and working in the USA and Northwestern Europe are not representative of the global population. Henrich coined the acronym WEIRD to describe such people, as they live in wealthy, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic countries. He warns that although many WEIRD people tend to think they represent a global standard, they do not. There are important cultural differences influencing how people act, think and perceive. These cultural differences also exist between WEIRD countries, but are specifically strong comparing WEIRD to non-weird (should we call them normal?) countries. This influences how people perceive concepts such as personality, motivation, trust, how they prefer to communicate, cooperate and lead.

Since culture is invisible, it is often ignored. With this book, I hope to contribute to making the influence of culture more visible, especially in the context of work.

The book is made available to all workshop participants or coaching clients who work with Caleidoscope Academy on increasing their intercultural effectiveness.

Are you curious too? I am happy to send you a copy.


Caleidoscopic Cooperation

We all naturally develop trust and empathy with our close family and relations. However, we are not naturally inclined to trust people that we consider strangers, people outside of our social comfort zone. In intercultural settings of cooperation, such as global teams, a shared cultural pattern is missing. This leads to difficulty in building trust, a lack of predictability, misunderstandings, ineffectiveness, and sometimes conflict.

Working effectively with deep diversity is a process that requires special skills. Team members need to understand, recognize, appreciate and integrate the different cultural patterns in themselves and each other. To illustrate the main skills needed to make deep diversity work, I use the metaphor of romantic love. Read more about how opposites attract, marrying opposing views and reconcilable differences in Caleidoscopic Cooperation, working with differences.


Caleidoscopisch Samenwerken

We ontwikkelen van nature allemaal vertrouwen en empathie ten opzichte van onze naaste familie en relaties. We zijn echter niet van nature geneigd om mensen te vertrouwen die we als vreemden beschouwen, mensen buiten onze sociale comfortzone. In grensoverschrijdende samenwerking, zoals mondiale teams, ontbreekt een gedeeld cultureel patroon. Dit leidt tot problemen bij het opbouwen van vertrouwen, een gebrek aan voorspelbaarheid, misverstanden, ineffectiviteit en soms conflicten. Het herkennen en begrijpen van elkaars culturele gedragspatronen helpt deze onbedoelde negatieve gevolgen van interculturele samenwerking te voorkomen.

Dutch article in Tijdschrift voor Ontwikkeling in Organisaties, March 2022


Beyond superficial diversity

What do you think about when you hear the words ๐๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ & ๐ข๐ง๐œ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง? Whatโ€™s the image that comes to mind?   Including underrepresented groups is what most organizations mean to do when they strive for diversity, diversity as a goal. ๐ˆ๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐š ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐›๐ž ๐๐ข๐ฌ๐œ๐ซ๐ข๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ ๐ž๐ฑ๐œ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐๐ž๐. However, often the argument of diversity and inclusion is linked to creating an organizational advantage. Yet superficial โ€“ often visible - characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, or age do not necessary make an organization more successful. To really use diversity to the advantage of the organization, they need to search for ๐๐ž๐ž๐ฉ ๐๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ. Deep diversity is about how people differ on a deeper level, independent of whether they are male or female, their sexual orientation or their level of education. People who differ on a deep level hold different values, beliefs and attitudes. They developed different cultural patterns, and have specific ideas about what is good, right and what works.
deep diversity

Deep diversity, the diversity that makes a difference

Organisations strive for diversity, but often confuse their arguments. Diversity as a goal (for example, to form a reflection of society) is not the same as diversity as a means (for example, to increase innovative capabilities). Pursuing diversity based on superficial characteristics serve the goal but not necessarily the means.  

To add real value from diversity, organisations need to focus on deep diversity: understanding cultural patterns of behavior, independent of people's demographic characteristics.
hidden influence

The hidden influence of culture

It takes some time and training to recognize the manifestation of culture in your organization, yet all our behavior is essentially cultural. This series will help you see the invisible. I will explore work-related topics where culture shows its hidden influence.

The hidden influence of culture: attitudes

Our attitudes guide our behavior and our intentions. Our own behavior is often guided by our expectations of other peopleโ€™s likely response to ours. Our ability to predict other peopleโ€™s attitudes strongly influences our interpersonal effectiveness.
Generally speaking, people do quite well at predicting other peopleโ€™s attitudes, as long as they belong to the same in-group. However, when trying to predict attitudes of out-groups, prejudice and stereotypes prove to be pour counsellors.

Read more to find out how attitudes influence behavior at work.

The hidden influence of culture: personality

The tendency to attribute behavior to stable, universal traits is inherently biased. It assumes a stable individual disposition to act in certain ways, independent of social or physical context. If people think so differently about personality and the role it plays in our social life, we should take this into account when we make assumptions about sources of behaviors of others. This has implications for organizational systems such as recruitment and reward systems.

Read more to find out how personality influences behavior at work.

The hidden influence of culture: motivation

Various researchers have tried to find universal categories of motivation. Yet what is motivating to one may actually be demotivating to another. I am convinced that the search for universal categories of motivators has been overlooking the influence of shared attitudes.

Read more to find out how motivation influences behavior at work and how we can be more effective at influencing job performance.

The hidden influence of culture: trust

Trust building is an art that is not made easier by group diversity. So how come we tend to think that diversity makes our teams perform better? Because once you overcome the trust barrier between different orientations, you can tap into a source of creativity working with people who have different perceptions of success, intelligence, freedom and safety.

Read more to find out about the hidden influence of culture in building trust and mistrust.
Groups and teams

The hidden influence of culture: groups and teams

In this article on teams and groups I propose a new team development model to help teams consisting of members representing different orientations: exploration, appreciation, reconciliation and separation.

Read more to find out how team composition influences the meaning of teams and how they develop.


The hidden influence of culture: communication

Communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds is probably the most unhidden aspect of the influence of culture. When traveling to other countries, or when meeting people from other countries at work, finding a way to communicate is the first problem we need to solve.  

Read more about different communication styles, miscommunication in meetings, presentations, decison making and in virtual communication and how we can learn to be more effective in our intercultural encounters.
global leadership

The hidden influence of culture: 


There is an abundance of popular management literature on leadership and how to become better or even great at it. But what is the best leader? Is there such a thing as one best leader, for everyone, everywhere, in any situation?  

The majority of modern leadership research has been conducted in the United States. We should be careful to assume that any of these leadership theories can be applied universally. As we each develop a dominant cultural pattern of behaviour, we also develop culture specific ideas about what effective leadership is.

Read more about universally appreciated and disliked aspects of leaders, how culturally biased leadership models can cause leaders to draw the wrong conclusions about their staff, how leaders can accidentally demotivate their team members, and why culturally sensitive leadership starts with self awareness.