Guest post by Roel Geenen and Anna Jaike Hut, Veldhoen + Company

Most of us have the opportunity to travel in private life. Some of us travel often and all over the world, others have only seen a few foreign countries. We all are aware of the fact that the cultural differences between countries are enormous. Living and working in Japan is completely different from living and working in the Netherlands. So, why do we implement large systemic group change like Agile, ABW and LEAN similarly all over the globe?

Veldhoen + Company doesn’t understand why and doesn’t believe in this unified approach either. It’s no coincidence that hundreds of companies in the Netherlands have tried to implement LEAN, while few to none have succeeded in creating successful self-steering teams, or continuous learning organizations.

As our company is currently based in 8 countries with workers in 50+ countries across the globe, we come across and need to manage cultural differences on a daily basis. One of the instruments we use to define these differences is Hofstede Insights. This instrument compares cultures across countries based on six cultural dimensions. To deepen the example that we came up with in in the first paragraph:

  • Japan has a stronger uncertainty avoiding culture than the Netherlands;
  • Whilst Dutch culture is much more individualistic;
  • Yet the biggest game changer: Japan has a very masculine culture, whereas the Netherlands has a rather feminist culture.

As a result of these cultural differences, the first phase of group change takes more time in Japan, as compared to the Netherlands. Japanese firms and people want to have (scientific) evidence that the change will work for them. They want leadership to confirm this change is the right way and they want to have referrals of groups similar to them that went through the change successfully. In the Netherlands however, it’s possible to start a large group change intervention bottom up, due to the fact that people are more individualistic. As a matter of fact, when there are sufficient and strong drivers for individuals to change, there’s no clear need for leadership to stand up for the change.

Roel Geenen
Anna Jaike Hut

On September 12th, during our workshop at CoreNet Global Summit we will present live feeds from our senior consultants in several countries. They will explain how the insights derived from the Hofstede Method are applicable to their clients and how they manage these cultural differences. Led by Veldhoen’s Managing Partner Roel Geenen, we will discuss, as a group, how cultural differences impact our own business.

Keen to see you there for an interesting conversation and to meet!