Let’s Talk About Harmony: A Guide to Collective Communication Environments

Harmony is one of the most central ideas in many collective cultures. Recently, me and my classmates had an interesting conversation about a situation that happened in a class-setting. There was a professor who reacted very emotionally and defensively on any suggestion made by the students about how to improve the structure of the class. At one point the discussion…

What To Learn From The Japanese Decision-Making Process

I will say this upfront: this article is not written in a way to explain the way the japanese decision-making process works. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to do so, since I have never directly experienced it. And in my readings about it, I realized that it is so far off the Western understanding, that unless you directly take…

The Classic Match-Up: Diverse- VS. Homogeneous Work Groups

It is a classic problem and until now it’s unresolved. The question what teams work better: diverse teams or homogeneous one’s. Oh man, all these dilemmas we face…. Creativity vs. performance. Intra-group Conflict vs. Groupthink. Fresh Ideas vs. Real Results and so on… But what if we wouldn’t have to face these dilemmas anymore? What if we could have everything?…

When National Culture Looses its Grip on You – Say Thanks to Your Environment!

Who are you? What makes you who you are? Your job, the country you come from, your education, or maybe your religion? Right now I am struggling to answer these questions for myself. Of course I know that all of these aspects together form the person I am. But there are aspects of your life that have a bigger influence…

Lead Like the Buddha: Integrating Buddhist Thoughts Into Corporate Culture

There was one man who succeeded in using Buddhist teachings to create an amazing corporate culture: Dr. Yoshiro Maruta, ex-president of the Kao corporation. Himself a Buddhist scholar, he was well aware of the similarities between the Buddhist philosophy and great leadership.   Maruta mainly integrated two aspects of Buddhism into the corporate culture of the Kao Corporation. Human equality…

Five Ways In Which The Mindset Of Chinese Employees Has Changed

We often think that Asians are very conservative in their thinking, that they cling to traditional values. However, according to a Steelcase WorkSpace Futures Whitepaper, there are six changes in the expectations of the Chinese employees. They no longer focus on tradition alone, but they now use it to their advantage, combining it with modern values in new ways. Check…

Nothing But Conflicts: Problems in International Negotiation Can’t Be Avoided, But They Can Be Managed

Imagine you representative of a western company want to start a joint venture with a Chinese firm. What is likely to happen, what are the common problems in these cases? Well, the most common problem is that western negotiators are often too impatient. They forget that before they start talking about business, they need to develop a relationship with the…

Turning Marmots Into Busy Beavers: Reflections on Motivating People Across Cultures

In Germany, Marmots are called “Murmeltiere”. They are the absolute metaphor for the life of a sleepyhead. It seems the fact that they only sleep through the whole winter, but not the summer, doesn’t seem to matter to us Germans. We just determined that they are lazy and that’s it. End of the discussion. Most of us are also not…

Not just Rubber-Time, But Rubber-Ethics

The Indonesians call it “jam karet” – rubber time. When we Germans say 2, we mean 2. When Indonesians say 2, they could mean anything from 2 to 3, 4, 5, 6. But this is not news for most people who have experience living in Asia. But what was interesting for me was that researchers also found out that Asians,…

The Way of the Sage: Constant Learning, Harmony and Consensus

Until now Confucianism has a huge impact on several Asian societies such as China, Korea and Japan. That’s why – if we want to understand the Asian way of thinking, we need to understand the teachings of Confucius. Now, what is that all about? Well, the goal of this philosophy is to become a “sage within”. According to Confucius we…