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Global Flipchart



July 2016
| Issue #4

Toolkit: Accelerating cultural integration with cultureQs

By Eric Lynn

A major rebranding initiative at a large European retailer included the establishment of a new marketing group consisting of members from 3 countries, with a range of 0-25 years' experience in the corporation and a leader who had joined the company only two months previously. I was invited as an observer to the group's first meeting, and the tensions I perceived, including the dynamic of the longest serving member being rejected for the leader's job, were confirmed in individual meetings with key influencers later that day. One week later, we invited the whole group to a one-day alignment workshop with the intention of negotiating a set of collaborative working principles to govern their interactions internally and with external stakeholders. The business unit's leadership was sceptical. We succeeded.


The group were invited to engage WITH each other to focus on their crucial business questions, using the cultureQs toolkit to enter a journey of discovery and sense-making that opened up the variety of world views in the group. We moved forward using appreciative principles to share stories on individuals' previous experiences of successful collaboration, drawing out key success factors. They then began the work of formulating their governance principles.

Understanding culture

The concept of crossing cultures extends far beyond talking about customs of people from other "countries". Culture is the continuously evolving dynamic interaction of the mindsets and gutsets of all the actors in the system. It is the soul of the organisation that drives all interactions in the system (read more). In order to align and truly collaborate - with outcomes that positively impact the business– groups and teams face the challenge of shaping a culture that enables fluid interaction at the human-to-human level and connect meaningfully.

cultureQs emerged in 2002 when a client challenged me at the initial strategy workshop following a corporate acquisition in the transportation sector. The client's question: "How can we accelerate the process of connecting at a meaningful level to enable us to focus on our business more effectively?"

Working with humans' natural complexity, we create and hold a focused dialogic space in which people share stories, experiences, and preferences. In 40 years of working worldwide in the field of human interaction, it is the only approach I have encountered that enables human connection.

In a scheduled follow-up call with the team leader a few days after the workshop, she reported: "I'm very happy with the day and very happy with the outcome. The questions and issues are out in the open and to be honest, I never expected that we would make such progress in just one day. cultureQs enabled us to take down our masks, show our real selves, and trust. We have created a working framework and now need to ensure that we implement it. This is our responsibility."