Crossing the road: Surviving and thriving in a new culture

A few years ago I stood at the side of a busy road in Kathmandu, Nepal wondering how I might cross safely as a stream of cars and motorbikes rushed past me. Noticing a pedestrian crossing not far from me I moved further down the road and stepped out on to the white lines painted on the road.

I expected the traffic to quickly come to a halt as I completed my goal of getting to the other side but was astonished and somewhat annoyed to find myself beeped at and swerved past as the traffic continued on its merry way!

What I had failed to grasp was I was endeavouring to achieve my goal with a strategy that worked well in my own culture but was all but useless in a different culture.

At that point I had two options – either blindly ignore the reality I was faced with and, with eyes fixed straight ahead, aim for my goal, hoping I didn’t get crippled in the process, or adjust my “reality” to theirs and adopt a new strategy.

I chose the second option and am pleased to say I safely and successfully achieved my goal of crossing the road. Yet many in business today choose the first option. They are set on achieving goals with strategies that worked well in the world as they one knew it, and in the process are crippling the long term health of their business.

In recent years a series of cultural shifts have had a significant impact on the emerging generation which has caused them to see the world of employment, marketing and sales quite differently from many of us who are over 30. We are operating out of our old worldview while they are rushing past us oblivious to our previously effective expectations and approaches.

These cultural shifts have occurred in seven key areas: an approach to parenting that is increasingly child centred; relationships that exist “virtually” 24/7; technology that brings the world to their fingertips; media that is all pervasive and highly visual; education that lacks absolutes; consumerism that is rampant; and globalism that transforms the way they see their place in the world.

If we are to have any hope of effectively engaging this generation we need to understand the cultural shifts that have occurred so that we can safely step out into their traffic flow and successfully achieve our goals.

To begin understand how you might do this download our free e-book “Y? Understanding the New Generation in the Workplace”.

See also details of our upcoming seminar “Future Proofing Your Business”.

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