Review: Managing Challenges Across Cultures
By Roberto Guida, David Trickey, Ezio Fregnan
Managing Challenges Across Cultures describes and documents the path of a complex global organization to multicultural proficiency as designed and implemented by the intercultural consultancy TCO International and Comau, a manufacturer of “automated systems that integrate products, processes and services”. Available as an e-reader or hard copy, it reads well and is accessible to anyone who wants to learn more about the challenges of adapting to a global business world.
The book has several strengths, the biggest being its case study format. This allows for the reader to experience this project from a bird’s eye view as well as second-guess TCO and Comau as they develop the project, by reading interviews with key company staff and leadership as well as the consultants themselves, investigate their tools and learn about the company itself and how it introduces the changes.
It is very clear and thorough, detailing context, the players, the key national cultures, strategy and planning. The interviews also serve to give a more personalized view of a large company’s change process.
In the book, the core of the TCO method and indeed of the intercultural world is to resolve the Trilemma (David Tricky, a TCO Director), meaning how to
- “remain yourself
- adapt to others
- remain consistent around organizational values and priorities”
“the struggle to balance and negotiate
and our way”
or intercultural understanding. This is referred to throughout the process while showing where this lack of resolution might be seen in the organization. For example:
- Cultural preferences to admitting mistakes. Who has learned to admit mistakes, who has learned to avoid exposure of mistakes? These behaviors may be culturally learned.
- Talking while others are talking as opposed to maintaining quiet when others talk,
any of which can lead to misunderstandings, triggering of unconscious biases and conflict situations. There is an entire section devoted to The Model of Cross-Culture Conflict Styles and how it is implemented.
All in all, this is an excellent resource or learning tool for those who are running their own first big international projects and for those who are curious and want to have their eyes open to possible blind spots.