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Colourfully painted world map
Just as a map can help you understand the geographical landscape, a cultural map can help you understand and build confidence in navigating a diverse team.


The MBI model involves three main phases for high performing diverse teams: mapping, bridging and integrating.

The first process of the MBI model is to map cultural differences present in the team.

Phases of the MBI model - Phase 1: MappingAdpated from Lane & Maznevski (2019)

What is mapping?

Mapping refers to:

systematically and objectively describing characteristics of people and identifying similarities and differences that can be used to help each other perform

Lane, H., & Maznevski, M. (2019). International Management Behavior: Global and Sustainable Leadership. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 112

The purpose of mapping is to understand cultural differences among team members. Of course, it’s not our cultural differences that are problematic, but rather how we manage these to work together.

How do we map?

When forming a new team, first take some time to find out more about each others’ cultural assumptions and values. Learn about colleagues’ attitudes to relationships and decision-making.

Give one another the chance to challenge and dispel unhelpful stereotypes and see each team member for what they can uniquely contribute to the team.

Use a framework

Frameworks can be useful for drawing out information. For example, you could use Hofstede’s framework of cultural values dimensions or several other frameworks to analyse cultural differences in your team.

By having each team member systematically describe their own cultural perspective, the whole team can begin to build a picture of the deep diversity within the team.

The mapping should be led by an experienced facilitator, whether that be the team leader, another team member, or someone from outside the team.

Your task

Examine these notes taken by two hypothetical team members, then map out your own profile using this template.

Compare your similarities and differences with the other team members, and consider how this information would influence the way you work together.

Would feel comfortable asking your real team members to go through this mapping exercise? Why or why not?

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This article is from the free online course:

Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace

Deakin University

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