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Cultures, Brainstorming, and Personality

Updated: May 22, 2023

Can your culture make you bad at brainstorming?

I read recently that brainstorming works better in individual-accountability cultures, and not as well in community-accountability cultures, because brainstorming holds little time to check with the group or find consensus. I saw an example of that in a recent brainstorming session I had. The people who were from strong community-accountability cultures were hesitant and disruptive in the brainstorming session: they wouldn’t come up with many ideas of their own, but they were always trying to comment on the ideas of others. That was frustrating to the leader of the brainstorming session: people just didn’t seem to get the “no criticism” component of brainstorming. This could lead me to believe that all community-accountability people are bad brainstormers, and that all individual-accountability people are good at brainstorming, but that isn’t quite true. It wasn’t just people from community-accountability cultures that were disruptive: it was also people from individual-accountabilty cultures. But what could explain that? As I thought about it, I realized that all of the the people from individual-accountability cultures that were disruptive would be considered “Refiners,” on the Team Dimensions scale. Refiners naturally ask difficult questions and bring in constructive criticism. This is absolutely necessary when you get to the refining stage in your project, but it is destructive at the brainstorming stage. Beyond that, not all the people that were more heavily community-accountability oriented were disruptive, they just tended to voice their opinions less. I couldn’t use just intercultural intelligence or classic psychometric profiling to figure out what was going on, I had to use both of them together. For brainstorming, psychometric profiles like those found in Team Dimensions and the Z Process might be the strongest predictor of behavior, but cultural dimensions layer right over the psychometric profiles to further influence how people react. In other cases, cultural dimensions might be the strongest factor, with psychometric profiles layers on top of the culture to influence behaviors. It all depends on the context. KnowledgeWorkx is always looking to learn more about the interplay between culture and personality in the workplace.

Josh Penman is a Communications Manager at KnowledgeWorkx. The opinions expressed in this post are his own. To begin your culture learning journey, Contact us or get our mini-ebook: Inter-Cultural Intelligence: from surviving to thriving in the global space.


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