The cultureQs Story
I’m frequently asked how I got the idea for cultureQs.
And as is the case for so many Questions in life that appear to be simple, the answer is far more complex.
The brief answer, the one that only tells part of the story …
The idea for the cultureQs format arose from a client challenge, reflecting a clear need.
In 2002, a friendly corporate acquisition created the world’s largest manufacturer of a system component required in all trains. Members of the new senior management team were nationals of the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland (German and French speaking), responsible for engineering and manufacturing facilities in Britain, Germany, France, Poland and Switzerland with corporate headquarters in French-speaking Canada. Integration was essential; culture was core to the work we need to do; the complexity of the Cultural Integration work required was invisible to us all at the start. I was requested to facilitate the process.
We began the first strategy workshop by diving into an intensive connection session, after which one Senior Vice-President said, “That was really good. I’ve now got a much better idea of who we all are, but we still have a long way to go before we can build the meaningful relationships enabling us to really work together effectively. And at the same time, I know we don’t really have enough time as we need to focus on our strategic challenges.” All his colleagues nodded in agreement, and so did I. At that moment, there was no other genuine response I was able to give.
In conversations during our breaks over the next couple of days, the Question was ever-present. After dinner on the final evening of the workshop, one participant casually formulated the pertinent Question for the challenge:
“How can we accelerate the process of forming deep meaningful connections to enable us to focus on our real work immediately?”
Having formulated the Question, he also challenged me, and I decided to take it up.
The only format I could think of to incorporate all the relevant Questions was a game-like structure, which crystallized as I began to play with ideas during a short holiday shortly afterwards.
Testing and improvements continued with varying degrees of intensity during the next 11 years, during which thousands of participants from all over the world kindly offered criticism and suggestions. Towards the end of 2013, I felt ready to launch cultureQs.
This is, of course, only part of the story …
My personal history, my personal experiences of life enable me to see the world as I do, and challenge the conventional narratives – narratives that are limiting, conveying an incorrect and limited perspective of the world – in such a way as to invite others to ask different Questions of themselves.
I’ve spent a lifetime challenging the attributions involved in categorisation of people.
Categorising others is a trap. It’s also disrespectful, and frequently discriminatory – though not always consciously so.
Furthermore … Categorising other people constitutes violence.
Most of my professional life has been spent working with International Management and Project Teams around the world … facilitating focus, alignment, integration and true collaboration around the business. People are … inevitably … core to the work.
Situations in which clients commonly request support include: M&A, Reorganisation, Joint-Ventures, Strategic Change, Process Improvement, New Projects, Innovation, as well as Conflict Resolution in cases where the people have lost focus and the Business was/is in serious danger of failure.
It was during the late 1990s that I discovered David Bohm’s work on Dialogue, and began to feed into my work. I learned that it provided space for people to be their true selves, expressing what is really important to them, enabling them to engage with others in their work, as they truly wished to. Inevitably, insights, which permitted acceptance of difference and differences and thereby new ideas, emerged from this space. The business benefitted.
This was the real beginning of the cultureQs concept.
cultureQs … Questions about culture … which is far more complex than you may imagine.
Information about cultureQs.
For background on the eco-system perspective of culture that underlies cultureQs, please refer to Seven Core Layers of Culture.
Original text: 2013.
Edited and updated: 2022.