The vast differences around the world in the way people think and behave is a fascinating and generally untapped resource when looking for change. Change is constantly sought for on both the professional and personal level, yet we overlook profuse ideas in neighboring cultures and pay unnecessary amounts of money for innovators to come and shake things up with what in actuality are cookie cutter ideas. I believe the simple assertion can be made that cultures can have immense differences from one another (ceremonies, beliefs, mindsets, values, etc.) So when taking a look beyond ones current ways of doing things why neglect the vastness that is culture.
Lets look at an example of two different tomato companies, Tomatoes-R-Us and Acme Tomatoes. Tomatoes-R-Us grows all of its tomatoes in agribusiness farms in San Jose, California. The product travels well, is ripened upon reaching foreign ports, and competes sharply on price mass producing tomatoes with hybrid seeds, chemicals, and state of the art machinery. Acme Tomatoes chooses to grow their tomatoes in the country in which they are sold. Plum tomatoes for the Italian pasta market and vine ripened tomatoes for the French. By adapting their product to the different cultures Acme Tomatoes is thinking and designing beyond its present limits. Accounting for different cultures and mindsets opens our minds to endless possibilities of new ideas. The distinction to be made here is Tomatoes-R-Us is a domestic company that operates internationally, where as Acme Tomatoes is a global company interacting with various cultures.
Being receptive and open to new ways of doing the same old things provokes anxiety. The United States is the most individualistic and materialistic culture. We consume so much that an entire industry has risen providing storage facilities for those people who cannot fit all their possessions in their place of residence. We have blinders on to other countries and cultures who have gone on just fine with out a $25 monthly fee to U-Haul storage. (Go to google maps and type in storage facility if you want to see how much we over consume). But do not let my point of being open to change get lost in this farcical example.
If we look outside our boundaries, literally and figuratively, we see countless disparities. When examining values we see the collective Asian culture’s focus on networking and community distinct from the individual, agentic, leader driven way of the US. When looking at time orientation there are those who enjoy living in the present like our Spanish friends who have 3 hour breaks in their days compared to us who tend to look to the future, saving for retirement or working for that next big promotion. Culture can also extend itself into the natural world as Indians have a harmonious relationship with nature and engage in environmentally sustainable behavior. What about the active culture of the German inventors or the cerebral culture of the Hindu’s value of thinking and being. In examining these comparisons it’s not like one is true and the other is not, it’s just different ways of thinking.
The purpose here is not to find the right way of doing things, merely a different way of doing things. Be diverse in thought. Experience new cultures. Be willing to adapt. Find new purpose for existing mindsets, products, and values. This world is a collection of perpetual fascination, free ranging in nature, accessible through intrigue, and limitless in opportunity.