Integrating Diverse Cultures

Humans are genetically social animals, oriented to be part of a clan or group that looks like we do, acts similarly, speaks our language, lives where and like we do. We feel safe and protected inside of what is known and predictable. Operating outside of that environment produces, at the very least, discomfort and uncertainly.

As Jordan Peterson so aptly states: 

                “…The revolutionary hero (that is, a visiting stranger from another unfamiliar group) reorders the protective structure of society, when the emergence of an anomaly makes such reordering necessary. He is, therefore, the agent of change, upon whose actions all stability is predicated. This capacity—which should make him a welcome figure in the community—is exceedingly threatening to those completely encapsulated by the status quo, and who are unable or unwilling to see where the present state of adoption is incomplete and where residual danger lies. The archetypal revolutionary hero therefore faces the danger and rejection of his peers, as well as the terrors of the absolutely unknown. He is nonetheless the “best friend” of the state…The hero detects the dragon, or at least admits to its presence, before anyone else and leads the charge…His return to the Kingdom of threatened order may hardly be accompanied by praise, however, since the information he now carries (or perhaps is) will appear disruptive and destructive long before it proves redemptive…” (pgs. 271 & 279 Maps of Meaning, by Jordan B. Peterson, Routledge 1999.)

The unknown always caries both great risk and threat of danger, as well as great opportunity and innovation potential. The later only can occur in a culture of high mutual trust, openness, transparency and safety.

Organization leaders committed to integrating two distinct cultures (such as in a merger or acquisition) are alert to avoid the most powerful culture from dominating the new, seeing that two cultures coming together is a matter of creating a whole new culture out of both groups.