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World Views

Cultural Awareness Boosts Blueprinting Success

Surely we’ve all heard about or experienced the subtle differences between national cultures, even between countries very close in proximity. But can those differences actually impact a Blueprinting project? We think they can. That’s why we have a module on cultural diversity in our in-person Blueprinting workshops.

Much of what we discuss in our training is informed by the work of Geert Hofstede, a social psychologist who conducted an exhaustive study of company behavior across a range of countries, then organized related characteristics into his Cultural Dimensions Theory. At AIM, we discuss two of the key elements of this theory:

  1. The Power Distance Index: this is the extent to which members of a culture within a country (or company) accept a hierarchical approach to power compared to a more consultative or democratic approach.
  2. Individualism vs. Collectivism: this relates to whether people in a society (or organization) feel comfortable operating and expressing themselves on their own, as opposed to defining their identity based on a group.

You may be wondering – what could any of this have to do with Blueprinting?

In Blueprinting, we count on successful Discovery Interviews as the root of innovation. However, if a culture has high Power Distance and Collectivism, gaining agreement to and managing that Discovery Interview can be more challenging. A number of Asian and Latin American countries can fall into this category. In those cases, Blueprinters might want to reduce the number of attendees and, as possible, limit the customer group to managers at the same level. Using this modified approach, participants feel freer to speak up and share their challenges. North American and most European countries display lower Power Distance and more Individualism, making Discovery Interview set-up and execution more straightforward.

AIM does not cover a couple of other interesting areas of Hofstede’s theory. His work illuminated a few more patterns of behavior:

  1. The Uncertainty Avoidance Index: some cultures display a level of discomfort with unexpected occurrences and, as a result, they tend to implement many structures, laws and rules to govern and control.
  2. Long-Term Orientation: some societies place a higher value on considering the future when making decisions. People in these countries feel better about making short-term sacrifices, are better savers and relatively persistent in their nature.
  3. Indulgence vs. Restraint: certain countries are more comfortable with free gratification of human desires – having fun and enjoying life; while other societies may hold convictions that those elements should be curbed.

How might the above three factors influence Blueprinting, if they do at all? Tell us what you think. We’d love your opinion on this and any experience you’ve had. Your advice could be valuable for enhancing future workshops and assuring optimal application of Blueprinting worldwide.

Feel free to investigate Cultural Dimensions Theory on your own. Of course, if you have any questions on specific cultures and how Blueprinting might apply, please reach out to Dan Adams.

Read part 2 of this article originally published in the Take AIM Newsletter.