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The Story of the American Consultant and the Mexican Fisherman

Facebook employees are reportedly the happiest, most satisfied, and least stressed compared to other leading competitors like Google, Apple, IBM, and Amazon (March 2016 survey). Why? Because the culture is open, decentralized, and owned by all.

Facebook has a legendary sign that has become a daily mantra, "Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem." The sign was hung anonymously and the idea has spread in the campus.

"No one owns the culture," says Facebook’s VP of People. "It's autonomous and decentralized; we all own it together."

What makes people happy at work? 

You might be surprised to learn that it’s not shorter work hours, not more vacations, not higher raises, not promotions. The causes of happiness at work, research has revealed, turned out to be factors that are not that materialistic.

Of more interest to organizations and leaders is the question of how happiness impacts performance at work, and whether leaders can do something about it. Can people be trained to be happier at work, and thus more engaged and more productive? Research indicates that the answer is yes!

Why Creativity Thrives with Cultural Diversity. (Read article at bottom of page)

An American business consultant was standing on the pier of a coastal Mexican village when a small fishing boat docked. Inside the boat were several large yellow fin tuna a lone fisherman had caught. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The American asked, "Why don’t you stay longer and catch more fish?"
"It's enough to support my family. I’m happy."
The American asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?"
"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children and take siesta with my wife, Maria. Every evening I stroll into the village, sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. You could catch more fish and buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, senor, how long will this all take?"
"15 to 20 years."
"But what then, senor?"
The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would launch an IPO and sell your company's stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions, senor? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you could retire and move to a coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, and every evening stroll to the village where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos."

Engage participants in a discussion around the following points:

-What are the key values of the American consultant?
-What are the key values of the Fisherman?
-What is the impact of values on behavior in both cases?
-Are there stereotypes in this story? If so, how far or close to reality are they? In what ways may stereotypes be harmful? In what ways may they be helpful?
-When people from different cultures, say American and Mexican, work together, how understanding each other’s cultural values may be helpful? How can we meet the challenge of working effectively across cultural differences without sacrificing our own cultural values?

This story is from HumaNext’s Cultural Intelligence Training Workshop, available both as a ready-to-deliver off-the-shelf package, and as part of a more comprehensive online Trainer Certification Program. 

You can deliver a training workshop on creating a happy work culture with examples from Facebook, Google, Disney, MetLife, and others. You can order our off-the-shelf trainer's package, or hire HumaNext to deliver for you.

 Principles of Happiness at Work

Our "Happy Culture. Great Work" training workshop is based on a set of Happiness Principles taken from the best practices of happy, innovative, and productive cultures of some of America's leading companies like Facebook, Google, Disney, MetLife, and others:

1- Happy people do great work.

2- Having the freedom to dream and create.

3- Assume every new project will be fun and exciting.

4- Say "yes" first then go figure out how to do it.

5- Create and celebrate human connections

6- Communicate to create and appreciate

Participants learn, via experiences, activities, and challenging exercises, the best practices that they can deploy at work to create a culture of happiness that produces great work.

A happy work culture is possible. You just need to train people to create it.

6 Principles of a Happy Work Culture

(Why Facebook has the happiest employees)

It's not a choice between fun and work; it's a choice for fun and work. How Facebook and Disney do it, and how you can too.

Over the past decade or so, many researchers became interested in discovering the factors that cause people to be happy and engaged, and ways to make this happen at work. Hundreds of research papers and dozens and dozens of books have been published. Yet you’d have to look very long and hard to find any corporate-quality ready-to-deliver training workshop on the topic of happiness at work. Until now!

HumaNext, which has been on the leading edge of innovative training programs since 2002, has released an off-the-shelf workshop on this vital topic to enable trainers and leaders to create a happy culture of high performance at work. 

The field of cultural diversity has matured with time, and some training vendors started to link diversity and creativity in training programs. At HumaNext, we were perhaps the first, and we are probably still the only, company to offer training on both diversity and creativity in the same process, offering trainer certification in both.

Implications for Trainers

If you are delivering workshops on cultural diversity, consider adding creativity training either as an integral part of your training or as a complimentary part to it. In such context, higher creativity is presented as one of the clear benefits of embracing diversity. Employee creativity is a huge competitive advantage that must be cultivated.

As an inside trainer or an outside consultant, having creativity training as part of your diversity training would be a great added value.

A dissertation titled “Culture and Creativity”, by Nitha F. Nagubadi submitted in 2013 to the Chicago School of Professional Psychology for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology, reinforces the benefits of cultural exposure experienced by many who have studied abroad. Initial research indicates that there is a connection between multicultural experience and creativity. 

One aspect of increasing creativity involves new associations between ideas and new ways of doing tasks. Techniques for boosting creative potential may involve breaking down established ways of viewing the world or invoking unconscious thought processes.

Other studies cite five main reasons that multicultural experience may foster creativity. This process happens by:

  • providing access to novel ideas and concepts
  • creating the ability to see multiple underlying functions behind the same form
  • destabilizing routinized knowledge structures
  • increasing the accessibility of normally inaccessible knowledge
  • creating a psychological readiness to recruit ideas from unfamiliar sources and places

In my work in the learning and development field, I have developed and delivered workshops on creativity and innovation, as well as cross cultural skills and diversity. We also train the trainers in these topics in live events and online. But in addition to my interest in each topic on its own, the relationship between creativity and culture has been at the top of my pyramid of interests. And for personal reasons.

In many ways, I am the embodiment of multiculturalism and diversity. In one fun family gathering with my wife and three children, we noticed with amused wonder that the five of us were born on three different continents: Asia, Africa, and North America. How many continents can your small family claim? If you claim four or more then you beat me. :)

Why Creativity Thrives with Cultural Diversity

By Francois Basili, HumaNext President

Research shows that exposure to different cultures yields many benefits to adults and children alike, including higher creativity and flexibility.
This fact has implications and value to trainers who teach diversity, cross cultural skills, and creativity & innovation in business.

Cultural Intelligence Workshop

With the globalization of world economy, multi-national organizations, out-sourcing, the global executive and multi-cultural customers, the demand for effective cultural intelligence training has accelerated. the "Cultural Intelligence" trainer's program enables you to deliver a full day or half a day workshop on the key skills of cross cultural understanding and management.

The Workshop Covers The Following Key Topics

PREPARATION: A step-by-step guide for how to prepare for and promote this workshop to ensure success, including guides on delivering the training in various time frames. This section also includes a Cross Cultural Quiz to send to participants in advance to stir their interest or give it to them at the beginning of the session.

CULTURAL AWARENESS:  This section provides a complete Cross Cultural Skills Inventory participants can complete either in advance or in the session to get a picture of their level of cross cultural competency before the training. This part covers what culture is, what is clear and what is hidden, and how it impacts behaviors.

EXPERIENCING CULTURAL DIFFERENCES:  Simulation and real-life case studies that help participants have an “experience” of cultural differences in the session, often with surprising insights.

DEVELOPING CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE: Participants learn specific insights and skills for understanding and working effectively with cultural differences. This is done in an interactive manner that involves participants in discussions, role-plays, and exercises.

UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN & TRADITIONAL CULTURES:  Get deeper insights into the American dominant culture, including its African-American and Hispanic sub-cultures. Americans need to understand their own culture before trying to understand a different one. Others will also benefit from understanding American culture in order to work effectively with Americans.

METHODS FOR CONTRASTING CULTURES: The workshop covers a number of methods to understand and contrast world cultures. It then provides an innovative simplified and unified method to understand three broad categories of world cultures and compare them to each other and to the American culture. This is the easiest and fastest way to develop broad cross cultural understanding without spending countless hours trying to understand the culture and habits of each country in the world.

CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION AND NEGOTIATIONS: The workshop includes applications on cross cultural negotiations that provide crucial insights and skills that help participants conduct successful negotiations across cultural differences.

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