Meyer’s Cultural Map

Meyer’s Cultural Map

I have just finished the Culture Map by Erin Meyer. It’s taken me longer to read than it should, but that’s not her fault. She argues, building on the work of, her predecessors, including Geerte Hofstede,  that there are eight dimensions of business communication, these are communicating, evaluating (feedback), leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing, scheduling and persuading. She argues that cultures share positions on these dimensions as people’s comfort and natural style is based on their education systems and often deep seated cultural and historical factors. She argues that differences are relative i.e. you might be mediumly robust in offering direct feedback, but if you come across someone more so, you will find them rude, and need to recognise that if delivering such feed back to some one from a more robust culture, they may fail to understand.

In communicating, the degree of shared information is the key, low context culture need to communicate simply and explicitly and use summaries to confirm understanding. High context cultures use shared information to inform the conversation and short cutting this shared context can seem rude and ill-mannered. In evaluating, cultures vary with the level of bluntness, and again, those who naturally understate their [negative] feedback may well be misunderstood by those for whom if is a natural style. Leadership styles varying between an egalitarian approach and more hierarchical are also opportunities for confusion and ineffectiveness. The same is so for disagreeing. There is a fascinating explanation on how there can be cultural misunderstandings around scheduling which in some cultures it would seem optional.

The ‘Persuading, scale was interesting, illustrated by a story where an American got stuck because they didn’t explain why their plan would work, or at least not the theory behind it; their German colleagues couldn’t engage with the plan until it was. It’s categorised as task based vs principles based. It is my view that the British aren’t so interested in theory or principles, preferring what works and so called common sense, although Meyer scores us towards the principles end of the scale.  This may be aligned with the deciding scale, where the chart below talks about top down or bottom up, but the issue is how to build consensus. In the bottom up solutions, a broadly supported consensus is built before the decision, which is taken late and in the top down cultures, the decision is taken early, adjusted if necessary, and sold to the team, often through change acceptance programmes or training.

Within each chapter, she offers powerful anecdotes to illustrate the differences in culture and offers an inexact scoring mechanism for many leading countries. She offers more exact scorings and charts behind a paywall. Each chapter also talks about how each end of the spectrum can collaborate to improve communication,  team work and effectiveness.

An amusing diversion, is that as English becomes the international lingua franca of business, one’s culture creates a misunderstood meaning. Here is a useful guide, although possibly getting less so; an Anglo/EU English translator.

The chart below, shows a comparison between, Germany, France, China and Japan. It comes from the Harvard Review with whom it seems Meyer has an ongoing relationship.


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Meyer’s work is well reviewed elsewhere on the internet.

Glad I read it, and in theory it should help, but when doing 121’s it may be difficult to understand if any miscommunication is based on cultural insensitivity by me or just a lack of good old listening skills. …

On Cyber-security

On Cyber-security

I posted a note on cyber security on my linkedin blog. I post some pointers on the standards and controls needed to defend against a cyberattack and implement “adequate technical and organisational” protection. It looks and links at the NIST cyber-security framework and lists some of the necesary controls to implement a reasonable defence and prove “adequate technical and organisational” controls. If you do what I suggest badly, you might get away with it, if you do it well, you might stop and or recover from attacks.  …

An arithmetic concept

I am considering again, the role of Presidents of presidential republcs. Democracy means that the voice of the governed is heard, and is ideally final, that programmes are accountable to the people and the rights of the minority respected. Presidents, Leaders. or General Secretaries with weak mandates have the power and inclination to ignore the majority of their demos. Trump’s presidency among others proves that the argument, “that’s how it works” leads to crisis. Democracy is more than an arithmetic concept.  …

Arrogance and Bullying

Arrogance and Bullying

At Labour's conference, the Left won policy, the right won the card votes, famously in the case of re-writing the Leadership election rules, by getting Unison to break its mandate; it’s not the first time, a Union has broken its mandate at Conference; see Unite in 2018, MSF in 1993 , and the AEUW in 1968, the first and last being to sink open selection and mandatory reselection, same thing, different names. The article talks about the Sunday Afternoon rules debate and its atmosphere, which included the adoption of new disciplinary rules inc. changing the MP selection trigger ballots. I also comment on some press reaction. To see the article in its full glory, ... read more, ...

Fix the Tory Brexit, I don’t think so!

Fix the Tory Brexit, I don’t think so!

Up until now, the Labour Front bench has been promising to “Fix the Tory Brexit”, a statement echoed by Rachel Reeves in her speech to Conference, but the plaster seems to be cracking. David Lammy, in an interview with the BBC suggested that getting it right will involve renegotiating Boris’s deals, a move from Starmer’s position in January. Why this is controversial, I have no idea, if Labour don’t get their first, the Tories will. I should add that there is a growing support for rejoining the Customs Union and Single Market as solutions to the Northern Irish problems and the UK wide shortages and inflation. …

A new disciplinary process (for Labour)

A new disciplinary process (for Labour)

This is the speech I would have made on the rule changes implementing an independent disciplinary system.

The EHRC said we needed an independent disciplinary process, independent of the Leader & NEC. As a Party we should expect that we would develop a process conformant with the standards of natural justice and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

People are entitled to “a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal”, article 6 also enumerates criteria of fairness, inc. innocent until proven guilty and the right to present a defence and chose an advocate. It also guarantees a free defence for those that can’t afford it.

Such a scheme would require that the investigation and decision to prosecute should be under the direction of lawyers with an ethical commitment to their peers i.e. other lawyers, and that guilt and sanctions if required, is determined by a jury of our peers, advised by legal advice independent of that of the ‘prosecution’. Let us note that the EHRC also called out Labour for not offering the NCC independent legal advice.

These proposals are the wrong way round and will not protect the party from allegations of a factional use of its disciplinary system, not least because of the central role of the General Secretary, who does not and has not previously held a professional qualification guaranteeing a commitment to a standard of ethics. This is not to say that I consider the current incumbent to be unethical, but the fact is he is a paid officer of the party accountable to the NEC and is thus not independent of it.

We have also been told we have to pass these rules, that not to do so would be crime against the EHRC’s remediation plan and our compliance agreement. This is not so. The NEC could and should have proposed a truly independent disciplinary process; this isn’t. We can do better.

To finish, I am pleased to hear the assertions and promises that these rules will prove we’ve turned a corner, and that this shame will end.


You can see the debate on youtube here, and the rules changes were published in CAC 2. (They are published in the Labour Party’s classic three column, which makes them very hard to read, They cover 17 pages and published the morning of the debate. I will see if I can make a version that is more readable, but the .pdf is very hard to cut and paste, I’ll have to get an alternate source.)

Points I’d like to have made, but probably wouldn’t because it diverts from the thrust of the argument, that this is a factional take on the EHRC’s requirements, and is not independent

No-one is talking about the bullying and cheating going on, often performed, or covered up by staff and/or NEC members.

There is no means of complaining about the GS, or as far as I can see NEC members and no way of pursuing acts in contravention of C2.II.7, which guarantees the right to dignity and respect, and to be treated fairly by the Labour Party and Party Officers; today and in the past, we find complaints about Regional Directors being referred to themselves for action.

The record on actions for safeguarding is also poor. There is no recognition that some of the complaints received should be referred to the police.

The picture is mine and and taken in 2017.  …

Labour’s Programme

Labour’s Programme

Sadly, I know the rules well and was asked about how to get policy into the manifesto or create binding policy on the Party’s leadership. Labour’s Rules (C1.V) state that all policies carried at Conference by a 2/3rds majority must go into the programme, and the manifesto can only contain policies from the programme. These rules seem to have been forgotten for quite a while. The control of who can call card votes, is another means by which the rights of members are being suppressed. Not all policy motions get to go to card votes, even if the hand vote is overwhelming. And so they may not get into the programme, not that it matters too much as I don’t think they maintain the document anymore and it takes them 7 months to release the rules, imagine how long it would take to release a programme. The rules in question are in C1.V Party Programme, and can be found, overleaf/below ...

Reeves on Macro-economics

Reeves on Macro-economics

It came as a shock that she spoke for an hour, given that delegates who might want to oppose her, only got 1 minute. I summarise the speech here, as much of it was just political ballast, although sometimes you need to build a justification for what we do.

She started with a litany of Tory failures, and repeated the lessons that we can, post-pandemic, clearly see who are the essential workers in our economy and see how poorly they’re paid. She noted Angela Rayner’s announcement of a series of welcome protections and improvements to the social wage and employment protection law and segued to the need for an effective economy that works for all of us.

Possibly the crucial and welcome quote is,

We cannot have a return to the failed approach of austerity.

Rachel Reeves

She then spoke of tax reform and the need for a fair tax system, she proposes to close the loopholes, establish equity between the treatment of earned and unearned income, abolish business rates, increase the Digital Services Tax (by 600%), and abolish the charitable tax status of private education.

On fiscal policy, she says, that, she would put in place fiscal rules that will bind the next Labour government to ensure we always spend wisely and keep debt under control, so that we have the means to transform schools, hospitals, and communities, and pay for investment in the new industries and jobs that our country desperately needs. But not what those rules are, nor if they differ from McDonnel’s (or Dodds’)

One important point she makes is that she plans to get the money given to failed private sector CV19 interventions back. This is part of her justification for an Office for Value for Money; this strikes me as a gimmick; the Tories just turned off the controls that exist (the Ministerial Code and the NAO) that exist in order to give money to their cronies.

On Industrial Policy, where she shares responsibility with Ed Miliband she declares, “This is all part of our plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain” but there’s no mention of the National/Regional Investment Banks, nor of a replacement for the EU’s, now lost, Horizon 2020 programme.

While talking about combatting Climate Change, she says,

I will invest in good jobs in the green industries of the future; Giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles; a thriving hydrogen industry; offshore wind with turbines made in Britain; planting trees and building flood defences; keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down; good new jobs in communities throughout Britain.

Rachel Reeves

And adds

I can announce today that I am committing the next Labour government to an additional £28bn of capital investment in our country’s green transition for each and every year of this decade.

Rachel Reeves

But says nothing about how to choose the industrial winners, develop export markets to give the business scale, nor on a wealth tax, nor on interest rates.

It’s more populist than Annaliese Dodd’s speech last January, and I need to check what Ed Miliband said. As I said, after Annaliese’s speech, is this as good as it gets, we oppose austerity and might borrow to invest. A bit, “Meh” but it could have been worse. Shame she blew the good will she might have earnt by denouncing the Conference’s call to nationalise the energy companies that very evening.

Rachel’s speech is on Youtube, and a text version is on the Labour Party Press site. …