Case Studies

Consulting

Situation

Cultural Synergies was engaged by a global leader in consulting, technology, and outsourcing to review their cultural awareness training program materials.  The brief was to observe the delivery of a program, evaluate current content, provide feedback and update the current content where applicable.

The organisation required an external cultural consultant to assess and revise current training content and structure to provide updates and new perspectives.

Solution

Cultural Synergies reviewed the training content and in collaboration with the client revised and provided some new materials.

Cultural Synergies delivered some training programs and created training videos to compliment the current training materials.  The videos were developed in collaboration with the client to ensure that the content and language were representative of everyday, realistic situations.

Outcome

  • The client had greater participant engagement in their cultural awareness training programs
  • The new content and videos were well received by the trainers and provided them with greater resources and opportunities to further improve their delivery
  • Increased knowledge of how culture affects specific business outcomes
  • Enhanced ability to use this awareness and knowledge to build more effective working relationships
  • Increased confidence, and tools that they can apply, to build relationships with people from other country locations.

‘Cultural Intelligence for Leaders’ Workshop

Challenge

One of the major four Australian banks was in the process of introducing a new banking platform. The maintenance and operations of this new system were going to be Indian based. The bank had joint venture relationships with two major Indian IT companies.  There was some awareness that teams in both Australia and India were experiencing communication difficulties that were impacting the quality and timelines of projects.

  • The teams based in both countries were not working collaboratively. There was an ‘us’ and ‘them’ approach
  • The bank was not leveraging the value that could be derived from IT talent located in India
  • Poor relationships of trust between the external partners and offshore teams were negatively impacting the quality and length of projects.
  • Miscommunication was causing angst, frustration and conflict between teams
  • Technology ie. videoconferences and teleconferences were being underutilised.

Solution

  • Cultural Synergies conducted telephone interviews with a number of leaders, both in Australia and the joint venture partners in India to gain understanding and clarity of some of the current challenges and incorporated these into the workshops
  • Designed and facilitated a three-day cultural intelligence workshop
  • Provided opportunities for leaders to voice and share their concerns, challenges and expectations in an open, confidential manner with their colleagues
  • Provided interactive, practical case studies and activities to foster the learnings and improve peer relationships
  • Provided strategies for working with ambiguity, building cross border trust and relationships, particularly via technology and in virtual settings
  • Provided strategies for dealing with conflict and developed action plans for ongoing learning and cultural intelligence improvement.

Results

  • Participants improved their knowledge of the Australian and Indian business environments
  • Greater awareness of the differences of Indian and Australian cultures improved communication between the teams. It allowed for greater confidence and clarity when asking questions, particularly in moments shrouded in ambiguity and confusion
  • It provided a framework for solving problems and conflict, creating open conversations
  • Trust was improved as cross-border team members began to have deeper relationships and conversations with each other. This was reflected in less mistakes and greater clarity around confidence in technical competencies
  • Greater understanding and usage of the collaboration suites
  • Engagement and involvement of the leaders for a roll out plan to increase CQ within their teams.

Developing Asian Leaders

Challenges

A multinational consumer goods company identified a high performing local leader based in India and promoted him to a senior role based in Malaysia.

  • It was the clients’ first expatriate assignment
  • He was moving from a domestic to a regional role and undergoing some major changes in both his professional and personal life
  • While the clients technical knowledge and expertise was outstanding he hadn’t had much experience in managerial and leadership roles
  • The client hadn’t managed teams located in multiple global locations.

Solution

Executive Cultural Coaching was conducted over a period of nine months.  There were four face-to-face meetings over the period, including various ad hoc telephone conversations and email support.

  • There was an initial face-to-face client meeting to identify current and potential challenges, discuss objectives, clarify expectations and formulate outcomes
  • Data was generated via assessment tools and supporting documentation such as performance appraisals and feedback from peers, subordinates and managers
  • Following a review of supporting data and client consultation a development and feedback plan was established.  This also allowed the client some informal access to ‘bounce ideas around’ in a confidential manner and seek feedback
  • There was a final meeting at the conclusion of the program to assess outcomes and future requirements.

Outcomes

  • The client surpassed his first year KPI’s
  • Peer and team feedback indicated that he was a well-respected manager, leader and team member
  • Within 18 months he received a further promotion to manage one of the European teams and moved with his family to Europe
  • On a personal level he felt supported and valued in his role by his organisation
  • His improved cultural intelligence skills and strategies supported him in communicating information and providing feedback to his team in an effective manner that was indicated by results and conversations with some of his team members.

Executive Cultural Coaching

Challenge:

A female leader at one of the four large banks in Australia was moving to Malaysia as an expatriate to take a senior leadership role.

The role involved strategic management of a transformational change within the bank. She was new to the role, had not had an expatriate position before and was unsure of the Malaysian banking and business landscape.

Her personal life was undergoing considerable change as she established a new home and social structure in Malaysia.

Solution

  • three months of structured coaching via phone. The conversations were weekly for the first six weeks and fortnightly for the following six weeks.
  • There were intermittent emails on an ad-hoc basis
  • The sessions involved cultural information, frameworks for understanding the cultural differences between Australia and Malaysia; and some general strategies for working and living in the Malaysian environment
  • A one-day job shadowing was included in the program. This took place midway through the assignment.  It allowed for an external perspective of observations, interactions, behaviours and feedback.

Outcomes

  • The client had a heightened level of awareness and knowledge navigating both the Malaysian and the bank culture.
  • It provided my client with opportunities for self-appraisal and a sense of growth in both her professional and personal development in the initial 90 days of her move.
  • The anecdotal feedback from peers and subordinates allowed her greater insight into her areas of strength and in need of further improvement.

Keynote Speaking

Dr. Verghese was invited to speak at a Young Professional Network event.  The audience were from a range of organisations and professions – banking, energy, oil and gas, law and accounting organisations, from legal counsels, senior consultants through to assistant managers and graduates.

The topic was ‘Cultural Intelligence and Your Global Success’.  The discussion included how cultural intelligence can help individuals to lead, influence and work in culturally diverse teams.  The 2-hour presentation included some audience discussions and provided strategies and frameworks to develop cultural intelligence in various organisational settings.

It is a topic that is relevant to most young professionals who are and will be working across distance, time and cultures.  There was time during and at the conclusion of the presentation for questions and opportunities for further follow-up via email.

Following from this presentation, Cultural Synergies has providedcultural intelligence workshops, executive cultural coaching and cultural intelligence assessments from audience members who recognized that they needed to take their cultural intelligence journey to the next level.

Knowledge Transfer Team Workshop

Challenge

One of the world’s largest food and beverage companies was in a period of organisational, structural and operational change. Some of the back office processes were moving offshore to India. Australian staff were going to be directly affected by this change and the organisation was aware that aside from ensuring that the transition was as seemless as possible, they wanted to support their staff and be sensitive to the predicament that their staff were in.  While the Australian positions were about to become redundant, staff needed to work swiftly with their Indian counterparts.

  • A project team was arriving from India to conduct due diligence and ascertain which processes were to go off-shore and work closely with the Australian ‘Subject Matter Experts’ (SME’s)
  • The different work and communication styles of the Australian and Indian teams were potentially going to present challenges in terms of developing trusted relationships and in the transfer of information
  • There was a level of awareness that situations may arise where staff were confronted by their own biases and may require assistance
  • The members of the Indian team were under pressure to quickly assimilate, to work rapidly and felt anxious of the potentially hostile environment that they were going to be working in
  • A template for future replication needed to be established for future information transfer and staff redeployment.

Solution

  • Cultural Synergies designed and delivered a series of 5 workshops over a 3-week period
  • The first workshop involved all Australian SME’s involved in the project. It provided a forum for participants to express their concerns and develop the skills and strategies to work effectively with the Indian team
  • Workshop 2 replicated workshop 1 involving the Indian team. Similar to the previous workshop, it provided a forum for participants to express their concerns and developed the skills and strategies for the Indian team to work effectively with the Australian team
  • Workshop 3 brought both the Indian and Australian teams together to explore the cultural differences, highlight areas of potential conflict, formulate work group agreements and outline additional (support) resources
  • Workshop 4 was conducted one week after workshop 3. It involved two focus groups from both teams and a plenary.  The purpose was to monitor and review progress and work group agreements, resolve new issues and to celebrate and acknowledge accomplishments
  • Workshop 5 involved all participants from the Indian and Australian teams and provided an opportunity to evaluate, review processes for future teams and to celebrate the successes.

Results

  • The project exceeded timelines.
  • Communication was enormously improved. Open communication allowed people to ask questions, raise concerns, seek clarifications and tackle problems as they occurred
  • The SME’s were well equipped to effectively transfer their knowledge to the Indian team ahead of schedule
  • Friendships were made and relationships of trust and mutual understanding developed that promoted communication and facilitated discussions when problems arose
  • There was a reduction in operational costs through improved effectiveness and efficiency of people capital
  • There was on-going communication when the Indian team returned to India. The teams had a framework for working successfully in a virtual environment
  • As the teams had the essential resources and training to manage conflict and ambiguity these had minimal impact on the day-to-day processes
  • This project provided a framework for future replications

Global Leadership Development

Challenge

  • There was anecdotal evidence that suggested cultural differences were having a significant impact on the effectiveness of key leadership teams.  The organisation needed to support it’s leaders and provide them with culture and diversity training
  • One of the challenges was how to deliver the training in multiple locations that would be tailored to the cultural nuances and needs of each country
  • ‘Leading Across Cultures’ was developed in response to requests following the Diversity Engagement for Leaders (DEL) in the East Zone.  It was identified that a critical leadership issue in the East Zone was how to work with and leverage on cultural differences, given that the East Zone comprises 25 countries and 13 time zones
  • The organisation wanted to improve the cross-cultural skills of it’s employees by delivering a program that would encompass 25 countries and 13 time zones in the most effective approach possible.

Solution

Cultural Synergies designed and delivered 19 workshops “Leading Across Cultures’ to 335 leaders in the East Zone that were delivered in multiple locations around the world over a period of 12 months.

Results:

  • Improved confidence in cross-cultural leadership skills
  • Leaders gained a cohesive strategy to manage conflict in culturally appropriate manners
  • Leaders developed greater confidence in their abilities to provide feedback to staff located in other countries
  • Improved their communication skills. Participants learned how to ask questions, listen to the things that aren’t being said and gained greater understanding of day-to-day processes. The outcomes were greater sharing of ideas from staff and improved confidence to provide feedback to their managers of what was and wasn’t working well in their locations
  • Leaders improved their feedback capabilities. Greater feedback was given to teams, and implemented, when working across cultures.

Train-the-Trainer Program

Challenge

A leading provider of integrated customer management solutions that supports many global organisations was involved in transitioning some of the non-customer facing processes from Australia to teams in Bangalore and Manila.

Intervention

Cultural Synergies was engaged to create content, all resource materials and design and facilitate a program that provided cultural awareness training for knowledge transfer teams that could be delivered internally by staff.

The selected trainers participated in a one day training session with a fully qualified Cultural Synergies trainer where they observed delivery of the program they were going to deliver.  This was followed by a 2-day ‘Train-the-Trainer’ program.

Results

  • The program materials, guides and objectives were relevant to the trainers and participants
  • The development of local expertise within the organisation supported the ongoing development of staff
  • Future internal workshops for different audiences providing authentic examples that relate to the organisations current and future business challenges
  • The organisational long-term training investments were reduced
  • Less long-term reliance on external assistance for similar training requirements
  • A few trainers served as key stakeholders in developing new understandings and approaches to future training programs.