In October 2015, a group of MP managers from Mongolia and Ukraine participated in an interactive culture lab. Participants were able to gain experience in the interaction with other cultures and to work together to develop strategies for action. Trainer Dr. Heike Pfitzner opted for the CultuRallye interactive tool to best demonstrate this process.
The rules are simple: the participants seated on a table together learn how to play a game that involves using specially developed dice to win or lose chips. After a trial run, the participants are no longer allowed to speak. A number of participants swap tables after a while and continue playing at another table. What they do not know, though, is that the rules are different on each table. They must now come to terms with the unfamiliar situation without speaking and either learn the new rules or “import” their own. This gentle introduction to culture shock is a real eye-opener – helping participants to better understand what it feels like to be an outsider in a new environment and what is needed to be able to get our bearings.
The participants’ reactions to this minor culture shock were very different. They ranged from adjusting to the new environment to remain successful, to consistently applying their own “cultural rules” (even if this led to significant losses), to importing their own rules and assuming the cultural “dominance”. All participants discerned that a strategy was needed to be able to successfully conduct business in a foreign culture. This strategy called for a certain amount of flexibility in the approach to one’s own cultural background, along with openness to a new one.
With this realisation in mind, the participants took a further step towards successfully conducting business with German companies. And they were in fact very successful in this.
By Timo Tekhaus
Akademie International, Hamburg