THE CULTURE MAP
Decoding how people think, lead, and get things done in business across cultures.
– Erin Meyer
I wish this book had been written 30 years ago when I worked in businesses in The UK, France and Spain. As a naïve young kiwi, it would have saved me a few red-faced moments (but robbed my partner of great moments of hilarity – at my expense!). The cultural nuances between Kiwis and Aussies get a mention: it turns out there are more differences than just jandals vs thongs and eskies vs chilly bins 😊 😊
Whether you work from a home office or abroad, business success in our increasingly globalised world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences. I have experienced first-hand some of the pitfalls you can innocently stumble upon when working in a team comprised of people from various countries and cultures.
I delve into some of these in my book ‘Strategisation’.
Mobilising people to implement strategy successfully requires a leader to ensure that communication and dialogue are well understood, meaning that cultural differences must be addressed upfront. In Australia, 27% of the population is born overseas, and for many, English is a second language, so this doesn’t just apply to international business.
The Culture map is written by Erin Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, based in France, one of the world’s leading business schools. In this book, she demonstrates a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business.
What I found most helpful was the framework Erin provides, segmented into eight scales, each of which makes up the different elements that determine the culture of a business.
The eight elements are:
- Communicating: Low context to high context
- Evaluating: Direct negative feedback to indirect negative feedback
- Persuading: Principles-first to Applications–first
- Leading: Egalitarian to Hierarchical
- Deciding: Consensual to Top-down
- Trusting: Task-based to Relationship-based
- Disagreeing: Confrontational to Avoid confrontation
- Scheduling: Linear-time to Flexible-time
As you can imagine, in some cases, when these elements are graphed, the results show polar opposites. It’s no wonder that sometimes business dealings are doomed to fail before they even start if there is no conscious effort to address these potential barriers at the outset!
The book brings the cultures to life by using great examples from Erin’s many consulting and research activities worldwide. She illustrates how the differing cultures’ behaviours/ beliefs manifest, particularly in a work environment. In parallel with the book, there is a fantastic website where you can view and map various countries and their cultures across the eight scales.
‘The Culture Map’ doesn’t just offer a thought-provoking read and highlight the cultural idiosyncracies and differences; it includes easy-to-follow guidelines showing how to manage the challenges of working in multicultural teams.
This book is essential for anybody who works cross-culturally or is interested in what makes people from different countries tick. If you have to lead the implementation of a strategy and mobilise people from across cultures, it will make your job much easier.
Available from :