5 Stages towards a Global Mindset


Behavioral Science tools and Organization Development interventions are considered part of the “soft sciences,” so having a tool where metrics can be used to gauge progress and to measure interrelated efficacy steers Fortune 100 companies to implement those tools and processes which are proved rigorously sound and statistically validated.

One such tool is the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), developed by Mitchell Hammer, Ph.D. This tool measures where you are and where you see yourself to be on a continuum ranging from a monocultural mindset of Denial to an intercultural mindset of Adaptation.

5 Stages

1.  Denial.  This first stage is where an individual, or an organization, may take the stance that there is no need to learn about workstyle preferences because there is no bias or predisposition for or against others, whether they are employees, candidates, or applicants.  The “cream rises to the top,” so to speak.  They may even attest that they hire “Black, White, and polka-dotted people,” regardless of gender or any other form of diversity.  (Ever heard of the TV show, The Voice, where the three judges deliberately have their backs turned on the contestant because the premise is that appearance can shape bias?)

Philosopher Jacques Derrida claimed that modern Western culture is ruled by “phallocentrism” (i.e. a patriarchal agenda).  Therefore, those organizations that hold an all-white male C-Suite are most probably in the Denial stage about their talent.  It could be conscious cronyism or unconscious self-validation of hiring those who are reflective of the hiring manager.

2. Polarization.  This second stage is, like the term suggests, divided into two extremes:  Defense and Reversal.  When confronted with a workstyle difference, both extremes share the mentality that one style is superior to the other.  No consideration, or wiggle room, is given to the other approach having any merit.

  • Defense – This stance is the “My way or the highway!” approach. There is an inherent (explicit &/or implicit) demand to do things the dominant’s way.
  • Reversal – This stance is the “Going Native” approach.  It is an acquiescence or abandonment that accommodates the others’ preference.

L’écriture féminine (i.e. feminine writing) is a term coined by Hélène Cixous who questioned the adequacy of the “either/or logics” of Western philosophy predicated on binary oppositions.  She argued that there is a grey area worth exploring between the extremes.  Naturally, if one is stuck in Polarization, then the view is very black & white (i.e. good or bad).  She observed the tendency of feminine communication to be non-linear, cyclical, fluid, and that it “goes off in all directions” whereas masculine communication tends to be linear, ordered, and “logical.”  Those who insist on the dominant masculine communication style as being the professional/executive communication style are in Defense/Reversal, depending on gender.

3.  Minimization – This third stage is acknowledgement of cultural differences, and while there may be acceptance of some differences, frustration mounts at other differences too foreign from one’s own practice(s).  Despite being aware of the diversity present, the idea is, “We can muddle through the differences to accomplish our goal(s), because we’re pretty much all the same.”  It is the mindset of, “Let’s agree to disagree,” and “Can’t we all just get along?”

Eighteenth-Century Swiss Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau expressed views that people lose touch with their feelings due to their need to fit in with society (Sound PC? – Politically Correct?).  In other words, people disguise their feelings and desires to be accepted.  Employees conceal their emotions/thoughts at work in order to be liked by the boss (Who wants their boss to think they sport a “bad” attitude?).  Rousseau argued that what is beneficial for the society/organization as a whole is when people FREELY choose to align themselves with the direction espoused.  Transparency, openness, authenticity, and acceptance (the next stage) honor “individual freedom” and will create the “collective good” — which makes organizations profitable.

4.  Acceptance – This fourth stage is accepting the differences not as better or worse; just different.  There is recognition of another work style present and it is viewed neutrally, or as a potential asset; not as a deficit.  The action taken here is not integrative; it is mostly cognitive.  Those in Acceptance understand that there is “more than one way to skin a cat.”

Typically, this understanding comes from experience.   English philosopher John Locke wrote in his famous work An Essay Concerning the Human Understanding, that the senses and the mind work together to turn experience into understanding.  Everything in our mind is an idea; and, Locke lists four sorts of relations between ideas that would count as knowledge (identity/diversity, relation, coexistence, actual existence).

5.  Adaptation – This fifth stage entails leveraging someone’s stylistic difference at the right time and situation.  This is an action stage that practices and leverages inclusiveness.  Particular people are utilized for their skillsets, experiences, thought processes, or other abilities and preferences.

Adaptation is a strategic plan that maximizes utility.  This is known as Utilitarianism, and the most important utilitarian philosopher is 19th Century Englishman John Stuart MillHe argued that legal subjugation of talent (i.e. women and racial minorities – slaves) was wrong.  His premise was that optimizing intellectual capital and performance would benefit the collective good.  This concept is demonstrated in modern-day practice through academic scholarships by merit; in the workplace, however, it is a growth opportunity area that has found some ground in the form of Employee Research Groups (ERGs) – which target specific markets, usually geographically-, culturally-, and diversity-based.

A global leader is an inclusive leader.  Diverse viewpoints and those reflective of the client base are critical to success.  This is why we must determine in which stage we practice our business and determine how we can move forward strategically.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is certified in the IDI.  She is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com. 


Cixous, Hélène. “Le Rire de la Meduse” (The Laugh of the Medusa). New French Feminisms. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, eds. New York: Schocken, 1981. 253.

Irigaray, Luce.  This Sex Which is Not One. New York: Cornell University Press.  1985.

©Rossina Gil, 2013


About Rossina

Thought Partner & Corporate Primatologist

Posted on November 17, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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