Culture Triangle

Culture Triangle is a motivational activity that helps teams or organizations understand each other better in order to improve collaboration between their units.

This team building activity achieves its objective by talking about, and getting behind, the stereotypes that professionals from different areas hold about each other.

Culture Triangle

The Culture Triangle

The stereotypes held always have elements of truth within them, but also contain huge generalizations that should not go un-challenged.

This exercise provides an opportunity for the truths to be discussed and worked with, and the myths to be dispelled, providing a firmer foundation as the team goes forward.

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Objective

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    To surface and start to address some of the underlying problems that arise when representatives from different departments or companies work together.

What Is The Outcome?

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    A climate in which differences of perception and practice can be discussed openly and constructively.

Resources Required

  • Pack a multi-colored sticky dots (one color per team, each person needs to have one dot of every color).
  • Flipchart, pen and paper.
  • Open space for people to move around.
  • No tables and chairs.
  • The slides in this pack.

Process

  • 1
    The Facilitator presents the two cultural stereotypes slides.
  • 2
    The Facilitator draws a large triangle on a flip chart and labels it.
  • 3
    Each Team / Department / Company is allocated a color of a sticky dot.
  • 4
    The Facilitator distributes a multi-colored series of sticky dots to each individual in the team.
  • 5
    Each Individual now places the relevant sticky dot on the triangle according to where they think each of the Teams are in terms of cultural stereotypes.
  • 6
    When this exercise is completed, each Individual is asked how they feel about theirTeam’s overall positioning on the chart. They can also ask for specific feedback from anyone on the reasons for their positioning.
  • 7
    The Group now discusses the implications of this exercise for their on-going team-working.
  • 8
    The Facilitator leads a plenary discussion using the Strengths & Weaknesses slides.

Cultural Stereotypes

Consider the three organizational stereotypes Friendly Helpers, Tough Battlers and Logical Thinkers.

Culture Triangle Stereotypes

The Culture Triangle Stereotypes

Organizations can be plotted on a culture triangle …

Your Blank Culture Triangle

Blank Culture Triangle

You can download this template at the bottom of the page

Strengths and Weaknesses

How do Tough Battlers view the strengths and weaknesses of other culture types?

Culture Triangle How Tough Battlers View Others

And Friendly Helpers?

Culture Triangle How Friendly Helpers View Others

And Logical Thinkers?

Culture Triangle How Logical Thinkers View Others

Ground Rules

  • All insights should be treated as constructive feedback and an opportunity to initiate a change in culture where appropriate.
  • This is not about ‘us and them’ but about collaboration in general. A strong collaborative environment benefits everyone when it works well so hold this as the vision.

Roles & Responsibilities

Facilitator

Participants

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    Leads the process.
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    Organizes the materials and room setup prior to session start.
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    Prepares the participants for what might be a bumpy ride.
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    Follows the process.
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    Approaches the session with an open mind excited about the feedback they’re about to receive.

Secret Sauce

  • It’s important participants view what they’re about to hear about themselves as constructive feedback.
  • If it looks like there are some who are taking the process personally pull back for a few minutes and discuss the importance of feedback for continuous improvement.
  • As the plenary discussion progresses the facilitator will find it useful to capture headlines and actions. An honest purge of emotion and ideas often happens and you want to make sure you capture the essence so the teams move forward after they leave the room.

Free Download Files

About the Author

Nick Martin has more than 18 years experience as a change manager and is the founder of WorkshopBank.

  • Deb says:

    Thank you Nick! This is a good addition to my toolkit and I can see how it would be useful.

  • Lori Atkinson says:

    Nick, I am in awe of your generosity. Thank you.
    Lori Atkinson, Calgary, Albert, Canada

    • Nick Martin says:

      No worries Lori. Hope the weather’s warming up for you over in Calgary. Beautiful part of the world.

  • Jan Emerton says:

    Hi Nick
    A good tool to discuss differences in the team and get people thinking about perceptions and strereotypes. It looks very like the Red/Blue/Green descriptions in SDI – Do yuo know if this was the original source of the three types? have a look at http://www.personalstrengths.com for more information. You have to be accredited to run the SDI and it is a great tool that could be offered as a follow-up or pre work to this type of activity – we use it extensively on our training programmes and it is available in multiple languages. Thanks!

    • Nick Martin says:

      Hi Jan
      I don’t know that the SDI was the original source but I’ll check out that site for sure. Maybe we can get them on a Podcast here. Do you have any connections over there?
      Thanks for leaving a comment … very much appreciated 🙂

  • Rana says:

    Hello Nick,

    Truly cannot thank you enough for sharing this! It is an amazing tool! Thank you really. Very grateful to your efforts and for sharing! 🙂

    Sincerely,
    Rana

  • STUART says:

    Good model.Check out William Schutz-FIRO. Check out Edgar Scheins -Tough Battler /Friendly Helper/Objective Observer.In1983/4 the UK Manpower Services Commission used the model and content and the exact facilitation process you propose in a programme of learning for several thousand staff supporting the launch of the Youth Training Scheme .I was one of the programme leaders -the model looked at typologies of individuals rather than teams and groups but is transferable . Since 1985 my consultancy company has also used the exact facilitation process/content you propose internationally with many organisations and we have taught it to other consultants for example in Canada ,Europe,Australia . I am interested as to where you found the model/content/process?

  • Priyanka Dabas says:

    Hi Nick,

    Well thought and exaustive tool. The tool encompass various behavioural aspects of an individual’s personality. I am a change management consultant too and deal with similar kind of interventions. Looking forward to exchange more stuff on change management.

    Sincerely,
    Priyanka

    • Nick Martin says:

      Thanks Priyanka … I’m glad you like it … great to have you with us!

  • […] Culture Triangle: A team building motivational activity that helps separate teams or organizations understand each other better with a view to improving collaboration. […]

  • Barbara says:

    Hi Nick,

    thanks a lot for sharing all this. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience. As I am always looking for new and fresh ideas, workshopBank is a big help.

    Sincerely,
    Barbara, Cologne, Germany

  • Hi Nick
    This is great and comes at a time when I have to run a short collaboration session for teams who are working across two countries. The session is in about 8 hours from now and I am hoping to use this “as is”. It seems so simple and obvious but one never knows what it kicks up. Particularly grateful for the Secret Sauce as that obviously will be most important if things start getting personal – especially in volatile India.
    Thanks again,
    BTW, this is my first experience of WorkshopBank — will be coming back.
    Leslie

  • Hi Nick,
    Whenever there is a set of disjuctive cathegory system proposed my first question is about the underlying axises that define the number of the types. Do you have any info about the basis on which these three types were proposed? They can be paired with several models I know but they have four areas instead of three. I wonder if there is a fourth angle somewhere.
    Thank you for the activity. It is clear and clever as always 🙂

  • shalini behl says:

    Hi Nick
    A great tool, however did not receive the free slides even after answering questions and completing all steps.
    Request pls share the slides and would be grateful.
    Best
    Shalini

    • Shalini Behl says:

      My sincere apologies on the comment earlier….got the slides and they are wonderful. Many thanks and love the work…

  • Hi Nick

    This is so useful! Thanks very much! Another similar sub-idea could be about ‘icebreakers’?

    Best
    Lindsay

  • Jokapeci Tukana says:

    I love this and all other tools received so far. Really helpful and can’t wait to try this one out during our Staff and Board retreat. Thank you so much.

    • Nick Martin says:

      It’s a pleasure 🙂

  • Shama Dewji says:

    Much appreciated – thank you so much

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