Estefania Ciliotta Chehade and Michael Arnold Mages
In today’s working environments, collaborative teams are composed of diverse individuals – from different cultures, nations, religions, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Thus, there is an urge to understand and embrace differences. Yet, many teams and organizations fail in this endeavour because they lack specific tools to benefit from the power of diversity. In this paper, we present case studies from applying systemic design principles for designing for intercultural conversation as a way to embrace requisite variety in flexible and collaborative ecosystems. We describe a workshop experience that acts as a microcosm of a design team experience. The workshop allows participants to experience a system that is open to a variety of inputs and demonstrates the diversity of perspectives that may meaningfully apply to simple abstract artifacts. This paper shows how surfacing a variety of mental models through objects is both possible and effective in cross-cultural teams. In doing so, we demonstrate how design teams can endeavour to look at a problem space from multiple perspectives, benefiting from the power of diversity. The results include a general understanding of different interpretations of culture and boosting openness to otherness and intercultural awareness. As contemporary workplaces continue to diversify, developing a richer understanding of the value that cross-cultural teams can bring offers a path towards a more positive working environment.
Keywords: cybernetics, conversation, intercultural