Cultural Intelligence is the ability to quickly and correctly interpret new and unfamiliar social and work-based relationships and make major contributions to them. Given the quickening pace of partnerships and customer relationships that often span several time zones, developing this skill set is going to be essential in the coming year for many members of marketing, sales, service, operations and product management.
I’m preparing to teach an International Business next semester and ran into this concept. I scored myself to see by Cultural Quotient (CQ). It was a great learning experience so I thought I would blog about it. You can quickly find your CQ score by taking the short quiz in the article linked to in this article as well.
Understanding Your Cultural Intelligence Profile
Christopher Early, professor and chair of the department of organizational behavior at London Business School and Elaine Mosakowski, professor of management at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote the article Cultural Intelligence, which originally appeared in the October, 2004 edition of the Harvard Business Review. In it they defined a series of twenty questions that measure a person’s perception of cultural cues and their sensitivity to them. The authors even created a series of profiles that are fascinating to look at once one has scored themselves. From the provincial, to the analyst who seeks to intricately understand a new culture, to the natural, the ambassador, the mimic and the chameleon, each profile plays a unique role in how they interact with and contribute to foreign cultures. What is fascinating about the scoring approach regarding CQ is the balance of cognitive, physical and emotional measures that the authors have devised. The examples given of how those in key positions in their companies have been able to become more effective in working with cross-functional team members in completely different cultures than their own is encouraging.
- Cultivate Cultural Intelligence in your organization. Encourage an open mindset about having managers determine what their CQ scores are. Offer the opportunity for those spending the majority of time in new cultures the chance to get additional training as well.
- Find a C-level sponsor to champion investments in Cultural Intelligence. Companies as devise as HP to Proctor & Gamble have executive-level sponsors who work to support CQ programs, often benchmarking results to show progress over time.
- Use CQ as a means to match the best possible team members with the most demanding tasks. One disk drive manufacturer was able to do this and saved thousands of hours in lost communication by having an engineering manager sent to Hong Kong who had tested the highest of any other member of their department. This made it possible to clean up quality problems within a fraction of the time it typically had in previous product generations when CQ had not been used.
- Follow Proctor & Gamble’s Lead and Make Cultural Intelligence a Global Initiative. Proctor & Gamble credits the growth of CQ as a key part of its ability to innovate as well, all tying back to listening to their customers, channel partners and suppliers more effectively as a result.
Bottom Line: Getting more done in less time across cultures is going to be key in 2009. Focusing on how to create more Cultural Intelligence can also transform how innovative and tuned in to customers, partners, and suppliers your company is.