Daren Menabney The Culture Guy odcast

Why Focusing on Differences Won’t Help You Build Commonality [The Culture Guy Podcast]

Darren Menabney talks about the things you may want to stop doing when working across cultures

Darren Menabney 1 The Culture Guy PodcastWhen Darren Menabney moved to Japan in 2011 it was to attend an MBA program in Tokyo. Before that, the Northern Ireland-born Torontonian spent over twenty years working for the federal government in Canada, in the Departments of Revenue, Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Defense.
Today, he is the lead of global employee engagement at Ricoh Co. Ltd., where he heads initiatives to build stronger teams, creates a global corporate culture and boosts collaboration among Ricoh’s 95,000 employees in over 65 countries.

So while it would be easy to assume that Darren works in his current role as a Canadian expatriate on assignment in Japan, he was actually hired locally by his employer.

His management philosophy is rooted in the belief that a modern leader must use the right approaches to leadership, technology and cross-cultural communication to create value with their colleagues, team, and customers around the world. And he is experiencing this every day, living and working in Tokyo. In our conversation Darren shares his know-how around successfully adjusting to Japanese culture as a Westerner. On this episode he and The Culture Guy specifically discuss the three things he recommends we stop doing when working across cultures. Darren summarized these thoughts in an article he recently published via Forbes:

  • Drop Your Common Sense
  • Drop The Golden Rule
  • Drop The Emphasis On Differences

“A lot of the literature and training on cross-cultural communication dwells on gaps and differences, but understanding differences is not enough to build meaningful business relationships across borders,” Darren says. “To communicate and collaborate effectively, we need to build stronger bridges by also thinking about cultural similarities. Don’t focus too much on cultural challenges and what separates us, also consider the opportunities and what unites us.”

In addition to his work at Ricoh, Darren teaches courses on business presentation, critical thinking and building virtual teams to international MBA students at GLOBIS School of Management. He has also been a TEDx speaker.
To learn more about his work, connect with Darren via his LinkedIn profile and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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