“The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer

Rating: 4/5

I immediately bought The Culture Map after listening to an interview with Erin Meyer on Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert. The interview was engaging and insightful and I’m happy to report that the book was as well.

In this book, Meyer examines work relationships through the macro lens of international cultures. She presents a model for considering how cultures vary when it comes to 8 fundamental areas of work. And, she provides practical tips for how to consider thinking about our relationships at work as well as how to avoid and manage many common workplace and communication breakdowns.

Meyer’s 8-scale model provides an approach, language, and perspective for thinking about how we:

  1. Communicate – low vs. high context
  2. Evaluate – direct vs. indirect negative feedback
  3. Persuade – principles-first vs. applications-first
  4. Lead – egalitarian vs. hierarchical
  5. Decide – consensual vs. top-down
  6. Trust – task vs. relationship based
  7. Disagree – confrontational vs. avoids confrontation
  8. Schedule – linear vs. flexible time

It is important to note that her model is not about the absolute position of a certain culture on each scale. Instead, it is about analyzing the positioning of one culture relative to another.

I love the idea of using this 8-scale model as the basis for thinking more intentionally about work. In reading this book, I was struck by how much of my working style has been shaped by how I’ve seen others work or what I think makes the most sense. I’m not sure how deeply I have ever thought about how I communicate, evaluate, persuade, lead, decide, trust, disagree, and/or schedule (in the context of the scales that Meyer provides).

I think that this book will appeal to you if you work in a global organization, work in a culturally diverse company, and/or if you are looking for a way to integrate D&I thinking into your workplace behaviours.