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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Exploring Hidden Thoughts through the D.I.E. Method


Today we continue our exploration of Leading with Cultural Competence by considering ways to understand interactions and our own feelings.  

We  can risk cultural collisions every day if we do not take active steps to increase our understanding of not only cultural competency issues but also our own underlying attitudes, beliefs, and values.  These attitudes, beliefs, and values are the issues that lie underneath the surface and can cause the biggest problems in our ability to understand those that we are working with and learning from.  Just as the crew of the Titanic did not adequately estimate the size of the iceberg that laid under water, if we don’t check our attitudes and beliefs we can underestimate the amount of work we need to do to become culturally competent.

One method to use in increasing your cultural competence is the Describe, Interpret, Evaluate Method introduced by Janet Bennett and Milton Bennett in the 1970s while doctoral students at the University of Minnesota.  This method encourages individuals to take time to explore the who, what, where rather than immediately jumping to a conclusion based on our biases and long held beliefs.  Here are some types on using the D.I.E. Method:  
  • When you describe the event, situation, or individual remain factual.   Use concrete terms and thoughts to give shape to what you witnessed or experienced. 
  • As you move to interpret you should push yourself to develop three possible interpretations for what occurred.  This step is also a great time to seek input from a member of the culture you are interacting with to develop possible interpretations and understand the interaction from a new perspective.
  • Evaluate the situation by examining what you think and feel about the experience based on the interpretations and new knowledge you may have into the culture.  Acknowledge your feelings both positive and negative and also think about how the situation was viewed by the person from the other culture. 
  • As you use the D.I.E. method take time to work through each stage trying hard not to jump from describing to evaluating. 


There are new thoughts around moving to a model that is Describe, Analyze, Evaluate.  Supporters of this model believe that using analysis rather than interpretation as the second step moves farther away from subjective reactions which can lead to judgement.  Analysis of an issue lends itself to deeper discussions and moving the conversation forward to explore underlying issues.  DAE is also a Korean word that carries many meanings such as “foundation” and also “the opposite.”  What a great word to use to describe wanting people to change their foundation of thinking in relation to past attitudes and assumptions.   To learn more about the thoughts behind the DAE model check out Nam & Condon in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 

Photo Credit Flickr user Dan (catching up)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Join the Team as a Program Coordinator


We are excited to announce a new position for a team member in Northwest Minnesota.  This newly created position is for a Leadership and Civic Engagement Cohort Program Coordinator to work with the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program (RRV ELP) as well as the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) Program.  This part time position will be housed within one of the NW Regional Extension Centers (Roseau, Crookston, Moorhead, or Morris).  For more information, check out the full posting.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Leading with Cultural Competence - Never Stop Learning


Often times during sessions on cultural competence people are surprised to learn that their understanding of cultural dynamics or diversity is not as advanced as they believed.  This does not mean that a person is doomed to remain at that knowledge level forever and not able to grow their cultural competency skills.  It is actually quite the opposite.  When people are able to better understand where they are on their journey towards cultural competence they are better able to seek out new knowledge and experiences.  Today we offer for you five books that were recently recommended during June's Leading with Cultural Competence workshop. 

Facilitating Multicultural Groups by Christine Hogan
‘Facilitating Multicultural Groups’ is a good reference tool when preparing for meetings and workshops.  It gives tips on how to adapt materials and prepare for situations that may arise in intercultural settings.  According to Toby Spanier, Extension educator, with this book you are getting two for one because of all of the facilitation techniques and tools that are presented.

Driven by Difference by David Livermore
David Livermore is a thought leader on cultural intelligence and global leadership.  He is able to take research and make it understandable and applicable for community leaders.  In 'Driven By Difference,' Livermore presents strategies and practices that “guide multicultural teams to innovation” through the building of trust, creating a safe environment, and engaging multiple perspectives.   When asked why this book is useful for leaders Toby Spanier stated that it helps us see that “we shouldn’t view diversity as a problem to be solved, but rather as a treasure trove, rich with innovative solutions waiting to be mined.”

Leading with Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore
As the author of more than ten books on diversity and leadership it is not a surprise that Livermore has two books on our must read list.  In 'Leading with Cultural Intelligence,' Livermore offers a four step model to help us manage across cultures more effectively.  Spanier shared that this book brings alive the concept of cultural intelligence and applies it with practical how-tos.  It is grounded in cultural intelligence theory and research helping community leaders to understand the “whys” as they do their work.

Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky
Andy Molinsky present us with a critical new skill, global dexterity.  He defines this as the ability to adapt our behavior to new cultural contexts while still being our true authentic selves.  He captures the six dimensions that set behavior expectations within a cultural setting: directness, enthusiasm, formality, assertiveness, self-promotion, and personal disclosure.  According to Spanier, “if you can master these expectations you have cracked the cultural code.”

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar Schein
Although this book is not specific to cultural competence it discusses an important skill that we need in order to improve our understanding of others.  The practice of humble inquiry moves us beyond telling people what they need to know and into discussions that help us learn about the individual and encourages building relationships based on curiosity and interest in the other person.  Catie Rasmussen, Extension educator, believes this book is important to community leaders because it shows how we benefit by three actions - telling less, listening more, and asking questions using humble inquiry.

Now that you have a few books to pick from, head over to your local library, bookstore, or find your favorite electronic reader and head out to enjoy the sunshine with a good book!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Power of Community


Pakou Hang is a graduate of the Minnesota Ag and Rural Leadership (MARL) program, which is a partnership between Extension's leadership programs and Southwest State University. In this video, she discusses her leadership story and her belief in the power of community. You NAILED it, Pakou! 



Thursday, July 7, 2016

OPPORTUNITY - Paths to Civic Engagement Workshop Series

In Minnesota there is a call for more leaders in rural communities.  According to an analysis by Extension research fellow Ben Winchester, 1 in 16 people must serve as a leader in rural Minnesota counties.   To help people prepare for this level of service the Initiative Foundation is offering the Paths to Civic Engagement workshop series as a way to give advanced training to up to 50 motivated community members under the age of 40.  The workshop series addresses topics such as ethical leadership, interacting with the media, resolving conflict, understanding the basics of government finance, and more.  While helping individuals prepare to take on elected, appointed, or staff positions within local units of government and non-profits it also helps participants build a support network that will be there for them as they step forward into leadership roles.  Visit the Initiative Foundation website to learn more about the Paths to Civic Engagement program and how to apply.  They also have an excellent video to give you more information about the program.  Registrations are being accepted until July 15, 2016 and accepted on a first-come, first served basis.


The Initiative Foundation serves fourteen counties in Central Minnesota including “the St. Cloud area and Twin Cities metro ring counties in addition to the Brainerd Lakes area, two tribal nations, and the rural countryside.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Leading with Cultural Competence - What is Culture and Why Does it Matter?


We recently held the Leading with Cultural Competence workshop as part of the 2016 Leadership Series.  This day-long session allowed participants to explore their understanding of cultural competence and how to be more effective leaders.  Information for today’s post has been adapted from materials prepared for the session by Extension Educators Catherine Rasmussen and Toby Spanier.

When we are asked to define our culture many of us may immediately name a country we or our ancestors immigrated from.  We don’t always give credit to the other pieces that create our culture – our socioeconomic status, gender, educational history, or geographic location to name a few.  Each aspect of our lives informs our culture as well as the culture of the places we live, work, play, and lead. Simply stated, culture is made up of shared basic assumptions that are learned over time and considered to be valid.  These valid assumptions are then taught as the “norm” to others around us and impact the behaviors and actions of the group.  This process is what creates bonds between families, groups, co-workers, and organizations.    Understanding all of these different pieces does not only contribute to our better understanding of culture but also leads us on a journey towards understanding the concepts of cultural competence.

Cultural competence is the understanding the culture is deep, pervasive, complex, patterned, and morally neutral.  A developed understanding of cultural competence allows us to see how culture has formed our own beliefs, values, and patterns of behavior.  As we understand ourselves better it makes us more capable of accurately understanding and adapting behavior to cultural differences and commonalities that are around us.  Cultural competence is something that people can work to improve and learn through their lifetime.  


We cannot expect to develop a sound understanding of our own culture or to be cultural competent overnight.  Culture and cultural competence are topics that we need to take a moment to understand and explore.  To learn more about the cultural and demographic shifts seen within Minnesota take a minute to read the Brookings Essay by Jennifer Bradley.  It provides interesting information on how Minnesota is becoming more diverse and takes a close look at changes seen within Minneapolis-St. Paul.  University of Minnesota Extension’s own Ben Winchester has also done extensive research into how the population is shifting with rural Minnesota.  His analysis of 2010 Census data published in the Rural Minnesota Journal provides an interesting look into how the population is shifting within Minnesota and what changes are noted within rural communities.  Both reports share a common theme – our state is becoming more diverse.  This fact makes it important that we further explore issues of diversity and learn how our culture impacts our ability to work with people from a different culture.

Photo credit flickr contributor carolinejohn1998

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!



We wish you a happy, and safe, 4th of July.  Thank you to past and present leaders who have helped to shape our country.
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