I’m always acutely aware that one of the dangers of adopting an evidence-based approach is leaving oneself open to the accusation of being negative. This is a real paradox because what might appear to be a very critical perspective is, in fact, the opposite. Being evidence based means taking a very positive stance with a very clear purpose to improve all of our lives. Yesterday I was with a client where I met people from all corners of the world and I was immediately struck by the ‘family’ atmosphere but, more importantly, a family in to which I was warmly welcomed. I don’t feel this very often and it is exactly the sort of thing that organisation developers would want to bottle if they could.
What was the real insight for me though was the way this company was growing and assimilating different cultures and yet, at the same time, apparently maintaining this ‘one family’ feel. It inspired me – wouldn’t it be wonderful if an organisation really managed to take the best of all the cultures represented among its workforce? If you wanted to do that with your organisation what would be the best bits from each?
As someone born in the UK, from Irish parentage, I am happy to start the ball rolling with what I believe are some of the best aspects of the cultures in which I grew up. From the UK I would offer tolerance as one of our most attractive features. There is plenty of evidence that the UK is an incredibly tolerant society, which includes allowing opinionated so-and-so’s like me to vent. Of the many things I could have chosen from my Irish heritage I would take self-deprecation; it is very easy to get on with people who do not take themselves too seriously and prefer informality to ceremony: my own family would never allow anyone to have pretensions or to regard themselves as ‘better’ than anyone else.
I imagine there is not a nation on earth that could not offer something to strengthen these family ties so what would you bring from your own culture?