5 indicators that you have a western bias as a consultant

When OD consultants admit their western bias, there is a lot of “unlearning” to do, and new skills need to be acquired.

It is much easier for OD consultants to haggle with my claim that OD values and tools are culturally tainted.

In one forum I participated in,  someone even claimed that I have a personality disorder which has led me to claim that OD needs to be globalized in order to deal with global organizing. The psychological reductionism is much easier than admitting your own limitations and biases.

In case that you want a check list to see if you have a  western cultural bias, answer the following 5 questions with a YES or NO.

1) Is having an ongoing candid dialogue at work better than ignoring differences and pretending that they do not exist?

2) If someone misrepresents key facts in a meeting on purpose, are they lying?

3) Do people all over the world think that teamwork means collaboration with their peers?

4) Is being mildly authentic at work generally preferable to showing rigid emotional restraint?

5) Does honest feedback generally motivate all staff, world wide, regardless of culture?

If you answered YES for all five questions, I would suggest that you try to understand your biases, and start unlearning the universality of your beliefs.. Otherwise forget about being effective in the global workplace.

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11 thoughts on “5 indicators that you have a western bias as a consultant

  1. Mais, Gloria n’arrives pas comme ca, mais hui? Alors, niemand ist an island. Duniya gol hain. Patterns are like footprints of time in social waves of interaction, on desert sand dunes, or like curls on troughs of ocean current.

  2. We can become so much more effective when we admit we have ‘blinders’ and can really reflect on where we are ‘coming from’. As practitioners, it is absolutely essential that we keep an open mind and constantly challenge ourselves to ‘see’ differently.

    Helene

  3. Even asking for a YES/NO answer is controversial – sometimes a both/and is preferable to an either/or approach. That said:

    1) I’d lean towards yes, but acknowledge that addressing differences might best be done in a circuitous route that would seem like “ignoring” to a direct talker.
    2) Maybe, maybe not. saving face is sometimes valued more highly than a technical truth.
    3) I’d like to hear more from you about what this question means to you.
    4) Do authenticity and restraint have to be mutually exclusive?
    5) I think personality types trump culture here. I’ve met both feedback-resistant and feedback-seeking people in different cultures. The form and manner of feedback, however, is highly important.

  4. I answered yes for all five questions.

    The more I look at OD being practiced in different parts of the world, the more I see the needed cultural adaptations necessary to make our practice relevant. May be, when it comes to culture, we need a whole overhaul of our approach, because our national cultures and even internal sub-culture determines how we could be better effective culturally.

  5. I answered No for all five questions.

    The more I look at OD being practiced in different parts of the world, the more I see the needed cultural adaptations necessary to make our practice relevant. May be, when it comes to culture, we need a whole overhaul of our approach, because our national cultures and even internal sub-culture determines how we could be better effective culturally.

  6. Pingback: 5 indicators that you have a western bias as a ...

  7. I had different answers when I listened to the questions from my North American client experience compared to when I listened to the questions from my client experience in Malaysia and France.

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