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Cultural Detective is designed to improve conditions and productivity in an international or multicultural environment. As an intercultural competence tool, it is designed to lessen stereotyping and improve dialogue. Cultural Detective, while it is a registered trademark of a single business entity[which?], it is also a project involving around 130 professionals from various places in the world.
The approach has been used on a proprietary basis by multinationals and NGOs in various locations around the world since 1989, and has been publicly available since 2004. It includes a series of culture- and topic-specific[clarification needed] available via site license or online download. A video describes the core process.[clarification needed]
Cultural Detective focuses on developing three capacities in its participants:
Know yourself as an individual and as a being made of influences of multiple cultures – Understand your (own) Subjective Culture.
Get to know others as individuals and as beings made of influences of multiple cultures – Acquire Cultural Literacy.
Fully include, utilize and appreciate everyone involved, with their similarities and differences as assets. Make sure systems and processes support interpersonal skills – Be a Cultural Bridge.
These capacities are developed through the Worksheet, used to analyze the series' 1000+ critical incidents involving people from various cultures, industries and professional functions. The Worksheet is used for real-time conflict resolution and team-building, as well as an individual's journal to analyze one's own life experiences. There is also discussion of values, both from various cultures and from examination of one's own set of values.
The Cultural Detective method is theoretically grounded yet practical, allowing for success because it focuses on the differences that make a difference in real situations. Theoretical concepts inherent in the method include:
Culture is a Lens that colors nearly everything we see, say and do, and the decisions we make. It largely dictates how we make meaning.
Culture is an ever-changing dynamic not a static entity.
Intercultural competence is context-specific.
People are complex amalgams of multiple cultural influences (age, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual tradition, education and training, nationality, ethnicity, organizational culture, etc.).
Nationality is not necessarily (or usually) the most powerful culture at play in an interaction.
The value of observation and objective description that attempts to filter out cultural bias and expectations
Coaching using the Cultural Detective method is becoming increasingly popular. A consortium of Cultural Detective authors and users has begun to offer a longer-term "B.I.G. Cultural Detective Coaching Programme".
The company publishes a "Clues to Intercultural Effectiveness" e-newsletter several times a year that includes designs, activities and tips for developing intercultural competence. There are user groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.