What is A Better World? Our Definition

Magnifying GlassMany people feel A Better World is peace on earth. While we hold to that belief, A Better World is really about identifying and creating the important dynamics for human interactions needed to support that world. What are these dynamics? For some, they might include how we think, our values, our behaviors, and the skills we need to develop meaningful and healthy relationships.

Jim White, one of our co-authors shares, “The dynamics for a creating A Better World include developing trust by treating all people with respect, and by creating an inclusive environment that acknowledges differences.”

In our book, A Better World, we explore a unique approach to the human propensity to prejudge, exploit differences, and uphold individual values and codes of conduct as best. We, the authors, do this by viewing the human condition through the lens of a computer metaphor.

For example, the metaphor of selecting a computer solely based on the outward appearance of its hardware explores how humans tend to judge others by their physical or outward features. This hardware metaphor is used in the book to advocate that people must look beyond physical characteristics such as race, gender, or physical ability to more meaningfully assess “the who” of that person.

Likewise, the software metaphor serves as a backdrop to discuss how a person’s behaviors and codes of conduct must be considered when exploring human interactions, regardless of the environment or settings. The more self-aware of our software we become, the greater the chance of meaningful interactions. The reverse is also true: being less self-aware lowers the chance of meaningful interactions.  Many of our more potent conflicts occur around behavior and codes of conduct differences.

The personal operating system (POS) is a person’s thought processes, values, and perceived norms. We maintain that it is difficult, if not impossible to change behaviors or codes of conduct without evaluating and updating our POS. An effective strategy is to update the POS through an increased knowledge of others and their culture, effective culture competence training, engaging in Employee Resource Groups, and self-awareness reflections.

The cornerstone for ineffective and harmful relationships rests with our viruses—prejudice, biases and discrimination. In the book, we explore the metaphor of computer viruses to demonstrate how prejudices, biases and isms prevent individuals from developing positive and significant relationships. More importantly, we explore how these dynamics prevent talented individuals from reaching their full potential within organizations and within the larger society.

In essence, we advocate that in A Better World everyone must be included and have access to all the resources needed to live and contribute to a healthy world. For example, in the workplace a healthy and Better World would mean all people are included, treated fairly and judged by the “content of their character.” In addition, those in the workplace understand how harmful viruses can be to not only the intended victim(s), but to the organization’s bottom line.

We welcome your comments.

Posted in Culture, Diversity, Inclusion Tagged with: , ,

Why We Wrote “A Better World”

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During the last several months, many people have asked us, Jim, Les and Dan, why write another book on culture, diversity and inclusion? Those reasons can be summed up by one workshop participant who said:

“One morning, while on the phone with a customer, my co-worker interrupted me to tell me she had a Chinese customer on the phone and wanted to know if I spoke Chinese. I looked at my co-worker and replied, ‘Mary, an English-speaking, white mother raised me in Cleveland, Ohio. I was adopted, and furthermore, I am not Chinese, I am Korean.’ Because of my Asian appearance the co-worker generalized about all Asians and made an assumption.” (Excerpt from A Better World: How Your Personal Operating System Affects Culture, Diversity & Inclusion)

This excerpt documents a primary reason for writing our recent publication. In our many workshops over the last twenty years, participants reported that they were unable to engage in quality interactions because of toxic attitudes related to ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or generational culture. In many of these discussions, people of color, gays, lesbians, and veterans reported having to face the sting of stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination. Many reported that these toxic “viruses” even in the era of African-American President Barack Obama, were not only disappointing but hurtful.

From these observations, we surmised that to create a Better World where everyone feels valued, respected and appreciated, we must explore three primary elements of cultural engagement: (1) how people view others’ “hardware,” which consists of our gender and physical and racial makeup (e.g., the Asian stereotype above); (2) how people either judge or don’t judge our software, which in human terms represents those behaviors we use when engaging others; and (3) how we sense or are aware of our personal operating system—a metaphor for our core values, norms, morals, thoughts and perceptions. An accurate awareness of these three elements will lead to feelings of validation, and respect.

This initial blog shares our collective experiences while training or coaching people from different groups and cultures. We wrote A Better World to explore more meaningful and healthy ways to participate and to develop skills toward a more positive culture engagement process. A process we believe leads to A Better World.

We welcome your comments.

Posted in Diversity, Inclusion