Area9 Lyceum Blog

Eradicate Unconscious Incompetence to Make Cross-Cultural Training Effective

Posted by Area9 on Jun 11, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll always be able to find a McDonald’s restaurant. The McDonald’s secret to global popularity can’t be found in any secret sauce: its success is a result of the corporation’s cultural astuteness. Whether serving a market that is predominantly vegetarian, or one that avoids beef, or pork, or enjoys fish, McDonald’s adjusts its menu to the local cultural flavor — to great success. While we aren’t responsible for McDonald’s corporate learning we have to assume that someone at McDonald’s at some time received cross-cultural training.

Recently, training related to the cultural differences between nations (i.e., cross-cultural training) to assist in the operations of multinational business has been in high demand, especially as the desire to prevent cultural misunderstanding (and more) grows. And while the McDonald’s menu example is oversimplified, it highlights the value of effective cross-cultural training.

What Does Cross-Cultural Training Need to Be Effective?

Unfortunately, as Andy Molinsky of Brandeis International Business School writes, many current forms of cross-cultural training don’t go far enough to be effective.. Instead, current methods only illuminate the differences in cultures but don’t help employees to “adjust and adapt their behavior across cultures.”

Block quote: For cross-cultural training to be truly effective it must change employee behavior by uncovering and eradicating unconscious incompetence.

One of the greatest problems in a multinational business world is cultural unconscious incompetence. Unconscious incompetence, or not knowing that you don’t know, is dangerous for any business.

Block quote: Knowledge gaps and misconceptions — Area9 data estimates that every employee is 15–40% unconsciously incompetent in core competencies — lead to mistakes, loss of sales, costly lawsuits, or dangerous accidents.

When those knowledge gaps occur on a multinational scale, they lead to mistakes on a global level.

For cross-cultural training to be truly effective learners must first become aware of common cultural differences; learners should then be trained on the significance of these differences and how to successfully work within them.


Adaptive Learning for Cross-Cultural Training

Adaptive Learning is a personalized learning system that adjusts to the needs of individual learners. This personalized aspect ensures that no employee learns the same cultural curriculum. Instead, the Adaptive Learning software only teaches learners what they need to know, so learners don’t waste time on learning content they’ve already mastered.

One of the features of Adaptive Learning software is that it uncovers and eradicates unconscious incompetence. Adaptive cross-cultural training uncovers each learner’s individual cultural-knowledge gaps and misconceptions, whether they be differences in communication styles, values, traditions, or beliefs.

The software then goes a step further than most cross-cultural training: when cultural unconscious incompetence is detected, it gives learners a learning time-out to provide learning resources. Instead of blasting the same resources to everyone simultaneously, Adaptive Learning shows individuals the specific resources each needs to eradicate unconscious incompetence.

Uncovering cultural unconscious incompetence, and eradicating it, helps employees change their behavior and productively work with the cultural differences inherent in multinational business.

Find Out How Other Companies Are Already Using Adaptive Learning To Change Employee Behavior

And learn if your company would benefit too. Download this comparative case study to understand the other ways that Adaptive Learning changes employee behavior through effective training.

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Topics: Corporate E-Learning, Unconscious Incompetence