Culture is an interesting aspect of learning, managing and changing. A few years ago Stoas made a web based training about intercultural awareness for the Abn Amro bank. We did this together with a company who specializes in culture; Ideas4.
Recently I was introduced to them by a colleague. We met with two of their partners (Juanita and Dick) and we hit it of right away. We decided that they would do a culture survey at Stoas and in return Stoas would help them step into the world of digital learning. We had a few sessions with them to understand their business and to create a shared vision on the future for their company. I think that we can actually change their business model by changing the way they organize their learning and courses and by building a community for them. We decided that the first step was to take a closer look at their “intercultural management course” and use that course as a pilot. In order to understand the course me and two of my colleagues took that course. It’s a two-day course and it was very interesting. They use several dimensions (created by Hofstede) to measure culture and to map it. Very insightful to realize what the differences and similarities between cultures are and have a method to make that possible. The cultural differences between Belgium and The Netherlands (which are neighboring countries) are for example, much larger then the cultural differences between the Netherlands and the Anglo-Saxon countries. A lot of knowledge and hands on experiences was shared. I really can use this in my international contacts. I can recommend this course to anyone who works with people from other countries and cultures, it’s well worth your time.
Last week I was reading a book from the Belgian author and trainer Jef Steas (only available in Dutch). The title is ‘My organisation is a jungle’ it’s about management, innovation and change. I didn’t liked it at all. I didn’t recognize the situations and I didn’t agree with him at all. At one point he was talking about the fact that the manager should be the biggest expert of the company on every field and then it hit me. This was one of the things we talked about during the Ideas4 training. In some countries the manager must be the expert, but in others like the Netherlands that’s not the case. It even can be an advantage the manage experts as a non expert manager. I reread the book and found much more cultural differences. The book still didn’t appeal to me, but now at least I understood why.