ideas & insights

 

Cultural Intelligence in Malaysia – The Future?

 

I’ve been a matsaleh (a white foreigner) in Malaysia for all of two months now. Way too early to pretend to be an expert on the matter, but I can’t help but be staggered at what I have observed so far in terms of cultural awareness here.

Malaysia is a mix of Malays (50%), Chinese (30%), Tamil Indians (14%), and almost all else. It is a living, breathing lesson in cultural diversity. There’s a place and time (and holiday) for everything and everyone. True, the debate over the education system and, for example, the favouring of bumiputeras (ethnic Malays) in the civil service is political and strident, but in the day to day there is a remarkable level of cultural intelligence. As in Singapore at the …

Aligned Talent Management & Business Strategies – Coming Your Way Soon?

 

Please, you protest, not this hoary old chestnut again. Haven’t we done this one to death? Well, allow me a festive break because it seems to be my abiding memory of 2012. This year has seen me working in the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, and now Malaysia. Everywhere I’ve been I and my colleagues have had to tackle this abiding conundrum…

For years now in HR we’ve been demanding a seat at the big table. The holy grail of business partner status. Ulrich and then both his detractors and supporters have left us in no doubt that the only way forward is for talent management to be both integral to our business strategy and indeed to drive it. In the same way that innovation …

Help Wanted

 

People say everything comes in threes – accidents, coincidences, London buses, and all the rest. Yesterday the theme for me, expressed in different ways, was help wanted.

Example One: It’s mid-October and I thought we still had time to bag a few Munros*. The weather forecasts for Ben Lawers (1214 metres) said ‘a light sprinkling of snow on the ground, cloud cover soon clearing up’. Nothing too extreme, we thought. Well, guess what, the snow fell constantly once we rose above the treeline and most of the time we couldn’t see beyond the ends of our very cold noses. It was a disaster waiting to happen as we had forgotten our sticks and didn’t have crampons. But we persisted and persisted up a rapidly disappearing path …

Intercultural brainstorming – the deafening silence

 

Here’s how it typically goes. You’ve just taken over a multicultural team and you think a bit of brainstorming would be in order. Show the team right away that you believe in participatory leadership and that you value their opinions while at the same time getting some fresh insights into an issue you’re all facing. Teambuilding and innovation. Two birds with one stone and all that. What could go wrong? You set it up, get out the flipchart, and wait for the deluge of ideas you have confidently predicted. After all, it worked so well with the last team…

We all know where this scenario is going. Either dead silence or, far worse, dead silence from everyone except for one or two team members who seize …

Exploring your organisation’s culture – who are you?

 

There’s a great onboarding activity in which new recruits are asked to explore their recently joined organisation as if they were anthropologists looking for artefacts, rituals and beliefs. The new joins scatter around the company – complete with pith helmets in some cases – to observe and interview, collect and record. Apart from being a good example of accelerated or even pull learning – and far, far better than the more common hours of PowerPoint designed to kill every last ounce of pre-start excitement at joining the organisation – what they report back is typically much more enlightening to the onboarding hosts than the fresh recruits. “They said that?!” “That’s how it appears to you?!” “Really? Is that how you would interpret that?!”

Everyone wins – …