2 Culture models

There are 2 models I use in my job primarily to understand a culture and act within it. Both have different origins and language.

Hofstede’s theory comes from an anthropology background, where the construct is based on 5-6 dimensions that are found to be key in understanding a culture and hence to be considered while communication, negotiation or any other activity that involves action across groups in different cultures. I have used it in a couple of different ways, such as when specifically making case for an investment it is important to position for the listener/investor’s culture than from where the idea is coming from. So I figure from one of the existing tools to find the cultural dimensions that is important and lean on it majorly, but still make sure the other dimensions are covered as well. For example for US I lean on individualism than collectivism, for India power distance and uncertainty avoidance.

Archetype extraction comes from a narratives background, just to be clear this is not to be confused with Jungian archetypes or motifs but there exists some relationship. Relationship being about memories (typically a collection of stories / events / even pictures from the field), that triggers some reaction (in a group setting). Instead of just labeling once, you do it twice, first labeling a stereotype and then extracting attributes, and then grouping the attributes (or their extremes) and try depict them as an archetype. This way there is no one single person / character that the archetype representing, but rather every archetype represents a part of the group’s make – up. Closest example I give is from Dilbert, you see part of your manager in the pointy headed boss, part of yourself in Wally and Dilbert, etc, but never can you point the one single representative.

I have always felt that people use culture as an excuse to not doing something. So if there is one most useful thing to pick about culture and innovation, by using these models you can quickly move away from useless abstractions and perceptions about an existing (always assumed static) culture especially by the old timers and ask them questions on either the dimensions or effects the narratives have on actions now.


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