Cultural Awareness Exercise

Appreciating cultures

1)     Give everyone a piece of flip chart paper. He or she then writes the name of her or his culture or country at the top and writes some words or phrases to describe the strengths of the way the culture does things and some thoughts on how they could do things better.

I give an illustration below of what I might say. This is just to make the process clearer.

Nick Heap – British culture



Producing ideas

Turning ideas into products

Good information about the wider world

Be less complacent

Universal Health care

Be faster to seize opportunities

Questioning assumptions is OK

Be better at taking financial risks

Rich literary and artistic tradition

Bring more of our most creative people into business

Change is usually by debate and peaceful

Be more optimistic that we can do it

The English language is the language of business

Speak more languages

2)      Stick your chart on the wall and walk around the room and look at each other’s lists. Ask questions if there are things there you do not understand. Think about who might be able to help you.

For example, if you were a British person and realised that the European language most British people speak is only English and this is potentially damaging, you might decide to ask a Dutch or Swiss multilingual person how people learn languages in their countries. This might help you have some influence on language teaching in your local school or on recruitment policy in your organisation.

3)      Come together as a whole group. Ask people to notice what a rich range of cultures are represented in the group… e.g., What did you notice about the French culture?  What surprised you? Lead a discussion about how can you use this cultural richness to add business value in the organisation.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick