how’s your cultural intelligence?

Friday 20 November, 2009

Big Frontier hosted this event Leading with Cultural intelligence featuring David Livermore, a specialist in this area.  Here’s his presentation Livermore Big Frontier Ldg CQ Test your CG here & check out his video here.  Here are the highlights:  He defines cultural intelligence as the capability to function effectively across cultural, ethnic, & organizational cultures.  It can be likened to emotional intelligence, recognizing that you can’t know everything about all cultures.  CI’s strengths are it fits in any context, it’s not 1 size fits all/accepts individual personalities, & recognizes that assumptions & stereotypes go both ways.  There are a number of important reasons to increase CI:

  • better decision-making, especially in consumer & customer-focused activities
  • more employee satisfaction/ less burnout
  • higher performance
  • greater profitability
  • 70% of international ventures fail, at least partly due to cultural differences
  • foreigners are coming here

To develop CI:

  1. define the drive/motivation
  2. define knowledge to be learned
  3. develop a strategic plan
  4. implement an action plan for adoption

To enhance CI:

  1. make a commitment to reading, immersion, become more aware
  2. create diverse teams
  3. hire trainers/consultants in these areas
  4. use CI in hiring/promoting employees
  5. weave CI values into the organization

Mobium conducted a survey which found that 83% of North American & 93% of foreigners felt the US has a foreign policy problem.  Further, 20% of foreigners are moving away from American brands, 30% of them because of foreign policy issues.


  • there is constant demand for CI consulting in Asia, India, & China
  • this is becoming required training for federal employees
  • although “people are still people,” starting with what we all have in common helps, but the difference in levels of humility varies across countries.
  • Lula was in Kopnhagen for the whole week campaigning for Rio in the 2016 Olympics-Obama was there for less than a day.  What does that say?

My take:  I wholeheartedly endorse all this stuff.  My only criticism is that this doesn’t go far enough.  Americans are encultured to be insular & parochial.  In school, English & state history are required.  We  need to encourage the study of foreign languages & world history.  We need to emulate big cities in small countries like Amsterdam, Kopnhagen, Hong Kong, & Singapore.  In these places, they must learn about the rest of the world because their home markets are small.  Residents learn foreign languages from a very young age, & are able to travel to foreign countries that are close by, creating opportunities to learn about other cultures.  The biggest problem in the US is everybody recognizes it’s a problem, but no one is willing to spend any money to solve it.  Until we adopt a more open educational system & culture, we’ll always remain a close-minded society.


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