Actually, I was in an office in London and I had a group of lawyers in a meeting room in Sandton, Jo’burg and together we participated in a cross-border, cross-technology, cross-cultural, cultural awareness training programme. Although it is not the same as being in the room with a group of delegates, I think that videoconferencing is the next best thing – and certainly much better than via the phone.
I remember trying to run video-conference training about ten years ago and the technology just wasn’t up to the job at that time. The sound would drop, there was a delay in the movements, and it all felt very stilted. These days, however, with the massive advances in technology it is much easier to make these sessions interactive and I try to simulate (as much as possible) being in the room with the remote team.
It’s always fascinating to run cultural awareness training programmes in South Africa because the culture within South Africa is so diverse. We had a very interesting discussion about how diverse Africa is culturally as a continent and how inward investors often use South Africa as a stepping-stone but expect South Africans to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the other 53 African nations! That’s a tall order…..
We find ourselves doing more and more work with Africa and know how different the various countries are in terms of culture and expectations but one thing they all have in common is that they are working with China which is one of the key indicators of the current rebalancing of the economic world order.