The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


Today I finished The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer. This book has been in my to-read list for a long time but finally I finished as this was the topic for discussion in our monthly management book club reading at office. This is a very valuable resource for anyone working with people from different cultures. It provides great insights both in terms of the backgrounds to differences in collaboration and communication styles and how to best navigate these differences. The idea is to help teach global business leaders how to bridge cultural gaps, as well as how to teach others on their team to be more successful. I found it very relevant as I work in a multi-cultural environment managing teams consisting engineers and leaders of diverse background. Last year this time I finished this author’s new book No Rules Rules, co-author with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings which I also liked very much. Erin is a gifted writer and she made the examples in the book very relevant and humorous.

Erin Meyer prepared a framework proposing 8 different scales to evaluate people from different cultural background. Her framework can be used to compare any 2 different cultures, but also to map several different cultures against each other. 

  1. Communicating: explicit vs implicit
  2. Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs indirect negative feedback
  3. Persuading: deductive vs inductive
  4. Leading: egalitarian vs hierarchical
  5. Deciding: consensual vs top down
  6. Trusting: task vs relationship
  7. Disagreeing: confrontational vs avoid confrontation
  8. Scheduling: structured vs flexible

For example, here are relative positions of India and USA on those 8 scales.

You may find relative positions for major cultures / countries across the globe in terms of those 8 scales in below diagrams. I find it very fascinating and plan to use it as a compass without generalizing it, as we all know each individuals are different. 

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