Working across cultures has had a huge impact on me throughout my career. Partly because of my African background and also because I currently live and work in a multicultural environment; I now call Australia home. I have always worked with cross-cultural team members throughout most of my post-university life. Hence, this topic is of interest to me. As an Agile coach, the fact that I facilitate a lot of sessions involving people from multicultural backgrounds made me undertake extra research into cross-cultural awareness topics. For this write-up, I chose to study the theory of cultural convergence as well as the theory of imperialism. The critical analysis of these theories opens up the consequence of globalisation on cultural conversion as well as ways of working in multicultural teams. I will also dwell on how Disciplined Agile robustly support the theories. I am fascinated by how much and fast cultures are converging lately and the effect this convergence is having in the contemporary workplace. Of course, there are issues that the theory of convergence raises; this is of interest to me. It is eye-opening for me as I have been a victim of some of these issues in the past and so many professionals are currently going through the same issues as I currently reflect.
Cultural convergence occurs when a culture leans towards becoming similar to another culture as a result of being exposed to the same cultural flows.
Several organisations put together their ways of working, generally called ‘company culture’. Company culture tends to make team members more alike over time. This is what the theory of convergence defines. Cultural convergence occurs when a culture leans towards becoming similar to another culture as a result of being exposed to the same cultural flows. The world is now a global village, and distance is no barrier. Therefore, there is quite a synergy between globalisation and cultural convergence. As a matter of fact, cultural convergence most of the time rides on globalisation. Globalisation is a process of interaction and integration between individuals, corporations, and governments of different countries through the use of different tools and techniques. Practices embedded in Agile ways of working enable globalisation, especially now that the concept of Business Agility is spreading like wildfire.
Globalisation is a process of interaction and integration between individuals, corporations, and governments of different countries through the use of different tools and techniques. Practices embedded in Agile ways of working enable globalisation, especially now that the concept of Business Agility is spreading like wildfire.
I will also reference the theory of imperialism which is one of the issues that cultural convergence usually brings about. Imperialism is when certain cultures deliberately impose themselves over other cultures, leading to complete or partial destruction of the local culture. However, it has been proven that local cultures do not totally vanish as a result of globalisation.
Such is the case of a local practice that still exists in present-day globalised India, a home-cooked meal delivery service in Mumbai undertaken by a group called the dabbawallas. Despite the prevalence of western-based foodservice competitors in India, the dabbawallas continue to expand and make a profit. While globalisation often overwhelms local businesses, the dabbawallas have managed to survive and stay strong. With a long history of efficiency behind the dabbawallas, it is not surprising to find out that their mode of operation is agile compliant. Continuous improvement is their watchword. The dabbawalla was founded in 1890, with more than 5000 team members currently supporting more than 200,000 customers. The dabbawalas distribute more than 400,000 lunch cases daily using metro trains and bicycles. No doubt, the dabbawallas have defiled the effect of cultural convergence despite the influence of globalisation on the environment in which they operate.
Based on my experience, I empirically gathered a few thoughts by critically analysing the theory of convergence, especially as it affects diversity in the workplace and multicultural team success. Cultural convergence often leads to standard organisational frameworks which promote cross-cultural awareness, cohesiveness, innovation, and cultural diversity in the workplace. Just like Berners Lee rightly said in 2012, “We need diversity of thought in the workplace to face new challenges.” A diverse and inclusive workforce develops novel products, services, and operational processes. Multicultural teams are very sensitive to the needs and requirements of the customer and tend to perform better in the marketplace. Disciplined Agile is well configured for team diversity and inclusivity, in fact, one of the promises of the Disciplined Agile mindset is to create psychological safety and embrace diversity. Cultural convergence is indeed generally good considering its positive impact on the workplace.
Even though Disciplined Agile recognizes and supports a diverse range of perspectives. It does so by recognizing different perspectives within the enterprise and the rationale behind their reasoning. There is a range of options and trade-offs that collectively hold the theory of convergence and imperialism true depending on context. For instance, the theory of convergence when learning lean methods and continuous improvement becomes necessary; and the theory of Imperialism when it becomes necessary to do away with the command-and-control culture that is not serving an organisation. Every time, context counts. This makes working with different teams very efficient because actions are taken based on understanding the point of view of everyone in the system.
Disciplined Agile has options that can help organisations fix their ineffective systems. If you would like to discuss more about how Disciplined Agile can improve your system, you can get in touch with us at Pete Lauren Consulting. We’ll love to hear from you and help you create a better system.