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Metis Talent Management brand new website goes live

Last fortnight was a joy, as we came to the launch of Metis Talent Management's website. Metis is a Singapore based organisation that advises clients on Talent Management with a primary focus on Talent Development and Organisation Design. Best wishes to team Metis!

The other great thing is how folks at Metis approached this by going in for a full overhaul, including getting a new logo and brand colours. Do leave your comments on what you feel about the website and the logo!!

Becoming Culturally Competent

Competence has been defined as the ability to do something successfully. It has been linked to intelligence. Therefore, one can say that becoming culturally competent requires one to be culturally intelligent. But what is cultural intelligence?


An outsider, who has a natural ability to understand and interpret an unfamiliar culture is said to be culturally intelligent. This can be very useful in today's world when people travel for work quite early in their career. A person who is culturally intelligent(and competent) does not judge things very quickly, rather, tries to get into the next layer of behaviour.
The Head-Body-Heart concept stated in the article "Cultural Intelligence" by Early and Mosakowski presents an interesting approach. The authors argue that when stepping into a new culture, one needs to build bridges using 'Head'(Cognitive issues), 'Body'(Physical dimensions such as dresses) and 'Heart'(emotional & motivational).
Further und…

Global Dexterity!

In an age when employees are expected to move across countries for longer durations, or make short term travels across cultures, it is can often be very daunting to be afraid of cultural barriers. Indeed, one of the attributes of a modern successful executive could be the ability to move across cultures effortlessly and be an effective business executive, and without getting overpowered by the gaps.



Professor Sheryll Cashin describes cultural dexterity as “the ability to walk into a room and be outnumbered by people of a different race or ethnicity and experience excitement rather than fright”.

According to Korn Ferry, Cultural Dexterity combines cultural knowledge, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills that can be adapted to achieve improved business results in any cross-cultural situation.

Culturally dexterous people are least prejudicial to other cultures. They are able to be themselves, at the same time, are able to integrate themselves with other cultures very effortles…

Leading Across Cultures!

As a team leader, nothing is more important than driving the team to success. It is easier said than done because different teams behave differently. One reason is team composition. The second reason is team culture. Team culture, at least partly, inherits from national culture, which serves as its context.

Workers in the US for example, while accepting the orders from a superior, may openly express disagreements, whereas, those in eastern cultures, will be more deferential and keep quiet, even if they are not in agreement. So, if a leader bred in eastern culture is transported to lead a team in the US, she/he may feel that the workers are arrogant. On the other hand, a leader from the US culture, if sent to lead a team in the east, may feel the team members are under communicative. Both situations are problems if common cultural grounds are not arrived at. 
One also needs to be self-aware, in order to understand how one is likely to be interpreted in the other culture. What one cult…

Cultural Issues in Strategic Alliances & Negotiations

One of the greatest cross cultural successes in the business world is the Renault Nissan Alliance. If one reads the differences between the two cultures, it appears too good to be true. In fact, almost unreal.With Mitsubishi joining the alliance recently, there is another spice in the curry!
Despite the obvious contrasts in the French and the Japanese cultures, how do such alliances succeed? The large question is, what are the dynamics of cross cultural alliances, howsoever big or small they are? How does one negotiate in a culture that is markedly different? The Hofstede dimensions provide us a clue!

Power distance often tells us the how the communication channels may work. If Power Distance in that culture is high, there is no point in seeking a meeting with the senior most executive. It is unlikely that an appointment will be granted easily! Instead, it is advisable to work with junior executives initially, who will report everything in detail to the boss!!
If negotiating as a team…

Working in a Multi Cultural World

The days of a single culture teams have gone into history.Modern international trade exchanges have given rise a highly intertwined business across countries. Take a look at the Boeing 787 aircraft, where the parts come from no less than 15 countries, possibly even more. Teams have become 'virtual' and ever connected. Though this has resulted in a humungous amount of cultural exchange, the downside is that with teams working 24X7X365, cultural issues tend to have a direct bearing on the productivity of teams - a challenge no global organization can ignore. Teams are often formed for projects and dissolved when the project is over.The result is that the Bruce Tuckman's famed stages of teaming - Forming, Norming, Storming and Performing are often compressed and teams expected to be in the performing stage from the initial moment. 
Organisationally, one is expected to subsume individual goals into organizational goals but there is a problem with this premise. The organizatio…

Geography of Thought: Big Picture vs Minutiae

It is not common to hear a corporate debate in which one colleague, usually the boss(Person A), in an effort to win the argument against a reluctant colleague(Person B), says, " Come on, look at the big picture". The subtext is that Person B is looking at only one small part of the problem and trying to solve only that, whereas, according to the Person A, the problem needs a holistic view. It is a corporate tradeoff, that many have encountered so many times.
This very much is an issue in intercultural communication and behaviour. We have seen Americans who start the discussion this way:
"Let's come straight to the point. This happened because the engine chamber overheated "
The discussion is centred around a small problem, which is isolated from the beginning and everything else is turned 'external' or extraneous.
Then one sees colleagues from Japan and China, who labour around a broad area for very long, and then coming to the point ("Overall, th…

Communication in Multi Cultural World

Challenges in communication have persisted in a multi-cultural environment since much before presents became gifts, inclinestransformed into ramps, and way long before lifts took avatar as elevators.It gets quite an aggravated challenge when a single medium of communication is used, such as only voice call or written email.

Communication Mindmap




Today's cross-functional, cross time zone and multi-location teams make collaborative working quite a challenge. In most occasions, colleagues in different locations don't meet frequently and that lack of face time compounds the problem manifold. Worse still, even the most common forms of intra-organization communication - email and telephone calls - are devoid of visuals, as well as tactile elements. Due to this missing visual/tactile component, body language elements, that often provide a context to the words, go completely missing. The consequence is that communication gets distorted and messages misunderstood.
For a client-vendor co…

Face and Authenticity

Does WYSIWYG(What-you-see-is-what-you-get) work for humans?Why has having-a-face or 'losing a face' become such an important metaphor in today's society? Do we live only for such acquired or perceived prestige of prestige or face?
Frankly, at the workplace, it is often a difficult choice. If you have lead a team and conducted common weekly reviews with your team, you would come across folks who are performers and are consistently looking to excel. And then there are those who don't and get regularly pulled up. It surprises sometimes that there are folks who are pulled up for work take it easy in their stride. And then there are those, mostly high performers, who require to-be talked with purposefully injected 'downgraders', else they withdraw into a shell at any negative feedback.


Picture Credit: Tom Pumford

As humans, we tend to take negative feedback personally, when we have 'invested' ourselves heavily into the success of a project. Maybe this is th…

The Culture Map as an Organisational Enabler

Well, why should we even attempt to map something so contextual as the culture, especially, national culture? Is there anything such as international culture? What about the impact of culture within a nation's boundaries? How does this impact business operations within an organization and between organizations? How does one ensure not falling in stereotypical traps when leveraging cultural context? The topic is unavoidable in today's business environment where multi-level supply chain runs across several countries. For example, the Singapore office of an American company could be overseeing sourcing from China, Korea or Japan, maybe even Vietnam.  Maybe the software running on sourced products run Indian developed software. So, which should be the dominant organizational for maximum effectiveness and efficiency in such cases? 
The answer is simple. Today, every organisation has a basal culture, which is a product of their historical evolution, if the company is old. Then ther…

Breaking Free of Stereotypes

Stereotypes are widely held beliefs about a specific group of individuals, based on, but not limited to, ethnicity, gender, colour, country, religion, profession or social strata. These beliefs are about behavior, lifestyle, choices and so on. They can be loosely called to be manifestations of inductive generalisation. The essential question is, from where does one get the stereotypes.
Stereotypes being a cultural issue, it is often inherited from the most important cultural influencers in life. While this list of influencers could vary for every individual, in my case, I feel it mostly comes from family, colleagues, friends, teachers, religion, education (and educational institutions), cities and states I have lived in(10 states so far, and counting!), games such as cricket and Tennis that I follow.
An argument is forwarded sometimes that stereotyping is sometimes good because it provides an initial behavioral clue to an individual, in the absence of any other information. The hint …

How Global Are you?!

The last thing a fish notices is the water around itself, so goes the saying. Today's world is so pervasively globalized that it is easy not to notice it! In our cricket crazy country, it causes no ripple to see a certain Mudhsuden Singh, aka Monty Panesar, deliver awsome bowling on behalf of England. Why Monty alone - Nasser Hussain,  former England Captain was born in 1968 in, what was then Madras. But then, it hardly raises an eyebrow. Tom Alter, an American, a highly acclaimed actor, was part of Indian theatre and Cinema, and when he passed away recently, the Mumbai film industry mourned as one of its own, which he indeed was.
But these were global citizens. In reality, there are elements of globalization within all of us, only the extent varies. When we meet French-speaking folks on the streets of Puduchery, when we buy cars from companies that are headquartered in Japan or Germany. Or, when an Indian design engineer, collaborates with French colleague on a deliverable for a…