Surprise! What we in the US think of as great People & Culture practices for our organizations is just a matter of perspective.
How can that be? There’s social science research, documented best practices, and shelves full of earnestly written case studies. Aren’t those The Answers, in hardcover (or these days, click-able) format?
I cherish those resources, too. Hell, I contribute to many of them. There’s no lack of love for social science here!
Scientists, you see, aren’t dogmatists. We are similar to artists--I am one of those, too. Science and art run on questions, and understand that today’s “answer” is tomorrow’s fresh query.
Here’s a best practice >> Work with colleagues around the world whose ontologies--aka ideas about relationships between people, things, places, and ideas--are different from yours. If you’re trying to get colleagues with different worldviews to agree with you, you’re an evangelist, not a scientist. But if you’re asking questions and opening your perspective to entirely new ways of creating organizational cultures where people thrive and create phenomenally amazing work… then you're a scientist... and probably an artist of sorts, too.
Can’t I lead People & Culture transformation domestically? Certainly, there are plenty of people who don’t see eye to eye in my own city. Why are international perspectives so important?
Great questions. Being receptive to perspectives in your own backyard is a hallmark of leadership. One of the reasons why “diversity” work is so hard for companies is because there’s fear of letting in the unknown, and doubly so for the unknown that’s right around the corner. This phenomenon is well-researched--it’s easy to open the gates philosophically, but harder when it means inviting someone over for coffee in the company cafeteria.
But perspectives from outside one’s borders are irreplaceable. Reality actually looks different depending on one’s perspective. Nations change over time. So do races, ethnicities, genders, physical abilities. What doesn’t change is the value of your ability to be truly receptive, present, and inquisitive to perspectives outside your own mind. Where you “see” yourself in space and time is the greatest indicator of how you form your reality.
Every leader has a bottom line. Yours may feel real, but it’s based on who you are so far, including how you see and experience power and relating based on power.
Every company has a bottom line. You may think it’s money, but it’s probably not. More often, company bottom lines are about promoting ways of doing business. That’s why companies have cultures in the first place. Companies are not just floating logos in a vacuum; companies are ecosystems that run on relationships.
So where does your company’s culture come from? You.