The Cultural Synergist

Insights for the month with Dr Tom Verghese
The Cultural Synergist- Insights for the month

February 2023

Issue # 178

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Challenges when working Across Culture...


We recently conducted a follow up session with a client on the topic of leading across cultures. We had conducted an initial session 3 months ago to assist the organisation prepare for offshoring aspects of its business to the Philippines. Having done the first session which focused on navigating some of the challenges of working across culture, it was fascinating to re-engage with the group and hear what they had encountered thus far.

We often use Paula Caligiuri’s - task, relationship and self-management model to help understand and categorise challenges relating to working across cultures.


*Source: Build Your Cultural Agility, Paula Caligiuri, 2021

Having discussed this model in our earlier session, we also reviewed it in the follow up session. Once we had generated a list of the challenges, the group started categorising them into the three areas. Not surprisingly, the task and relationship areas presented the most challenges. However, they had collectively missed reflecting on what the impact of their own values, behaviours and cultural norms may have had on these interactions. This was a major insight for everyone in the group.

When involved in cross-cultural work, our perceptions and judgements are based directly on our own cultural beliefs and behaviours. It’s critical to realise that we have a cultural ‘lens’ that we are looking through and to regularly check our assumptions. It provides the opportunity to discuss some of these assumptions with team members who are from different cultural backgrounds.

How conscious are you of your own cultural norms when interacting across cultures? How could you become more culturally agile?

Quote of the month:

"To improve is to change, to perfect is to

change often. "

- Winston Churchill


Book recommendation:




Stage (Not Age), Susan Wilner Golden

In the time it takes you to read this, another twenty Americans will turn sixty-five. Ten thousand people a day are crossing that threshold, and that number will continue to grow. In fifteen years, Americans aged sixty-five and over will outnumber those under age eighteen. Nearly everywhere in the world, people over sixty are the fastest-growing age group.

Longevity presents an opportunity that companies need to develop a strategy for. Estimates put the global market for this demographic at a whopping $22 trillion across every industry you can imagine. Entertainment, travel, education, health care, housing, transportation, consumer goods and services, product design, tech, financial services, and many others will benefit, but only if marketers unlearn what they think they know about this growing population.

The key is to stop thinking of older adults as one market. Stage (Not Age) is the concise guide to helping companies understand that people over sixty are a deeply diverse population. They're traveling through different life stages and therefore want and need different products and services.

This book helps you reset your understanding of what an "old person" is. It demonstrates how three people, all seventy years old, may not even be in the same market segment. It identifies the systemic barriers to entering this market and provides ways to overcome them. And it shares the best practices of companies that have successfully shifted to a Stage (Not Age) mentality.