The theme of the highly interactive and informative session with Mr. Madhavan, was “Leveraging cultural diversity for success”. He discussed with the students of TAPMI, the meaning of culture, the criticality associated with understanding it, need for cultural awareness and the five manifestations of culture in a workplace.
Culture is the sum total of inherited ideas, beliefs and values that are imbibed and the knowledge one acquires through experience and study. Just like every country and region has a culture, each organization has a definitive culture associated with it. Mr. Madhavan stated that the absence of hierarchy, open door policy, diversity and an equal opportunities empire are some of the cultural values at Ford. The criticality of understanding cultural diversity lies in the fact that it forms a foundation for all communication and is imperative to avoid misinterpretations of one’s actions. As the world is increasingly moving towards becoming a global village, any organization worth its salt has to look beyond one geographical area towards a global approach. This is where the importance of cultural awareness sets in. Cultural awareness starts with the basic premise that each person is different and that both similarities and differences must be equally accepted. Mr. Madhavan states cultural awareness as thinking on the lines of “What is our way?” rather than “My way is the only way” or “I know his/her way but my way is better”. The key contributors to cultural differences include language, accent, education, experience and history.
Moving ahead he spoke about the five key manifestations of culture which include independent or interdependent, egalitarian or status, risk or certainty, direct or indirect and task oriented or relationship oriented. While an independent approach focuses on taking individual initiative, an interdependent culture gives importance to collaboration. An egalitarian culture nurtures questioning and challenging the views of the superiors. A risk taker prefers rapid decision making in contrast to spending significant time on background data.
Mr. Madhavan stressed on the importance of understanding cultural differences between each country and individual as a key to successful business communication in the global scenario.