When you work in an international environment, it is very easy to forget how complicated is to deal with different cultures. “Global Dexterity – How To Adapt Your Behavior Without Loosing Yourself in the Process” comes to correct this forgetting – before you can do some irreversible damage to your cross-cultural relationships.
As usually, a Harvard Business Review Press book comes with two main strong points:
– A highly knowledgeable expert author – in this case Andy Molinski, a professor specialized in cross-cultural communication and
– Lots of practical study cases which should illustrate powerfully each demonstrated point.
“Global Dexterity”does not simply state some facts and then demonstrates them – it actually assumes that managing cross-cultures is a skill which can be taught and developed into a concept of … global dexterity. As such, it offers a meta-framework – namely a conceptual framework which can be applied various cultures and help you adapt quicker and better to the new environment. This is what I actually liked about “Global Dexterity” – you can take it as a light case-study handbook or you can advance and practice the mastery of the new method to new levels.
Naturally, some of the advice is intuitive – but again, when did you think last time to be reminded to have the courage to leave most of your cultural programming behind and start with a blank sheet of paper. Even the CEO’s sent aborad do not do it – and indeed, when you are running a business, using the cultural shortcuts and skills can actually mean a big difference between a large profit or a smaller loss.
The book is also putting heavy cases on board – for example strong cultural clashes between a Japanese and a US manager. Of course it also gives some solutions, but at the end of the day “Global Dexterity” reminds you about a sobering truth – managing across cultures will never have perfect recipes and expect to do major mistakes from time to time. The important point here is how you repair them and fix the relationship whilst going ahead with the business..
What I also enjoyed about “Global Dexterity” was its push for empathy with other cultures – something that Americans think they have but from my limited experience they miss a lot. Taking the others shoes is a basic negotiation techniques, but very often the Americans are so results oriented, that they will fail to build some long term relationships and gains just because they lack the empathy to sit down and listen. I hope this book will correct some of the common errors done by the US managers.
All in all, another Harvard Business Review Press interesting print which should land on your desk if you communicate with other cultures…
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