4.17: Case Studies

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Definition of Thinking
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Summary: 7 Disciplines & 3 Steps


Aim: To practice seeing situations through another’s eyes and analyzing cross-cultural misunderstandings using the 10 variables.

Sources of Conflict

Conflict can result at any time from the issues of how, what, when, where and why. The disagreement can arise from practical and / or emotional concerns. It may involve individuals or groups.

We can find the potential for conflict in any of the 10 cultural variables. For example:

Nature/ Control
“What do you mean, you won’t give me a five year plan?”
“It could be a sin if I did that.”
“Well, God may be in charge of all things, but I still need a plan!”
“I can’t do that.”

“I just want to meet this quarter’s objectives.”
“But in the longer term we’re going to lose members if we can’t maintain our customer service standard.”
“We’ll worry about that, when the time comes.”

“But I’m offering you a substantial bonus if you get the work done in half the time.”
“Money, is that all you think about?”

“So, do we have a deal?”
“It’s difficult.”
“Yes, but do we have a deal?”
“I’ll try.”
“What do you mean, you’ll try?!”
“It’s difficult.”

“I would appreciate you knocking before you walked into my office.”
“Hey, I’m sorry. The door was open.”
“My door is always open. But that doesn’t mean you can just walk in here whenever you feel like it!”

“This is the office you’re giving me? A space in the middle of everyone else?”
“It is the most appropriate space for you.”
“I don’t care. I want an office with windows and some privacy.”
“That is not appropriate.”

“But I told you to make the decision.”
“But you’re the boss.”
“Yes, I’m the boss and I’m telling you to make the decision!”
“But you’re the boss.”

“My cousin is coming in this afternoon. I’d like you to hire him for a job in administration.”
“But what can he do? Is he experienced?”
“What do you mean? He’s my cousin!”

“If we do this we can double profits within six months.”
“But at what cost! We’d lose two thirds of our staff working under that pressure. It wouldn’t be fair to them.”

“I want you to write detailed procedures for the new process.”
“Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. You just …”
“I want detailed procedures!”

Think of a conflict or misunderstanding you’ve had with a person from another culture.

1. What cultural variables do you think helped to create the conflict?
2. How did you resolve the situation?


< Back to 4.16
Definition of Thinking
        Next to 4.18 >
Summary: 7 Disciplines & 3 Steps