The rocky slopes of the Sierra del Escambray slipped into the darkened countryside moments before dawn as our car made its way along the winding autopista—a two-lane highway that cuts through the verdant expanses of central Cuba. We were heading toward the western end of the island that cool, May morning—specifically Santiago in Oriente province, nestled in the Sierra Maestra mountain range. Before we could reach Santiago, we had an important stop to make—a stop that made the first half of our journey a spiritual pilgrimmage...
Threats, Norms, and Culture: What a New Study of National Cultures Might Teach Us About the Cultures Our Organizational Systems Produce
Is it appropriate to kiss in a restaurant? How about in an elevator? Would it be socially acceptable to curse in a public park? Eat during a job interview? Turns out—and it’s not particularly surprising—that the answer to these questions has a lot to do with the country you live in. It also turns out that the ecological and historical threats a country faces correlate with how its citizens respond to the answers above, according to a study published this month in Science Magazine. The study, lead by Michele J. Gelfand...
Three Levels of Conversations: Learning to Access an Organization's Unique, Imaginative Intelligence
Can you help us with our strategic planning? Our organization needs assistance in constructing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (or SMART) goals and clarifying objectives. Like most consultants, I am often approached with such requests. Typically, a leader wishes to tease out a tactical plan in half a day in order to quickly move into action. Organizations commonly believe that the fastest way to changing a system is to hover over technical and transactional details, which seldom correlate with either work...
I remember looking up at the wooden beams and panels holding up the aged roof. My eyes studied its rugged patterns before moving across the room, finding little artifacts in almost every corner that continually brought the century-old structure to life. This old building wasn’t a historic home in the U.S. or an old church in Europe. It was my great-great grandfather’s house in Santa Clara, Cuba. Earlier this month, I traveled to the island with my mother and grandmother on a humanitarian visa to visit our relatives who still live...
Ever wonder why organizational leaders cling to old ways of doing business? I did the other day while looking at my desk, equipped with a 1-week-old Motorola XOOM, a wireless keyboard, and some scattered whiteboard markers. I found myself questioning why organizations tend to be reluctant about technological innovations, like “cloud computing," when its tools can enhance operations in the long-run. Many of the antiquated, organizational constructs that guide our daily work life tend to constrain responsiveness, creativity,...
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