LATRO has successfully expanded its global reach over the years. Operating in more than thirty markets worldwide over five continents, our customers, partners, and team represent a widely diverse group of professionals from different nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities. According to Don Reinhart, LATRO Co-Founder and COO, a key ingredient in the Company’s success has been not only our innovative products and services but also our ability to communicate and work effectively across cultures, “Maybe more than most disciplines, telecom RAFM requires a level of collaboration internally and externally in order to be effective. To be competitive and ensure value delivery to our customers, understanding and partnering across cultures is not a corporate nicety. For LATRO, it is essential.”
LATRO partners with Dubai-based KnowledgeWorkx in order to build inter-cultural intelligence, global best practices, and professional development into its team. KnowledgeWorkx has developed and trains to a framework that helps LATRO’s employees understand and work more productively with each other as well as the company’s customers and partners.
I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Marco Blankenburgh, founder and director of KnowledgeWorkx, in the UAE-based consultancy company’s office in Dubai to learn more about the company – why it was started, what the company specializes in and where it’s headed. I was particularly interested in hearing what he had to share because our LATRO Dubai team sat through Knowledgeworkx’ Intercultural Intelligence training called the “Three Cultures of Worldview” in March and our US team did the same earlier this month.”
Here’s what we covered:
Steph van Dalen (SV): Can you start off by sharing some background on KnowledgeWorkx?
Marco Blankenburgh (MB): KnowledgeWorkx was registered in Dubai in 2000 and began operations in 2001. I was one of 5 individuals who founded the company, and where we are today is more the result of trial and error than intelligent thinking . We say we’ve drifted into the intercultural space because we saw that so much more could be done around how human beings connect interculturally. We were seeing that the cultural awareness discussion was stuck in the one nationality vs. another nationality conversation, which just doesn’t work when you go to apply it more broadly in a world that has become so interculturally connected. Psychology has universal frameworks including principles that are true of general human behavior, so why don’t we also have a framework for our intercultural world? We realized we needed a framework to explain who we are as intercultural human beings, each with unique cultural wiring. So, we decided to create one that would go far beyond the “where are you from” question. Rather, we want the question to be: “When I meet somebody for the first time, what would I want to know about that person to understand who they are as a cultural being? What is truly relevant and meaningful to assist me in building a strong relationship with him or her?”
SV: How has the KnowledgeWorkx team grown since 2001, and what does it look like today?
MB: We have intentionally kept our team small. We currently have 8 staff located in Europe, India, the U.S. and here in Dubai. Our strategy is to continue to develop Intellectual Property, certify our facilitators in it and then support them as they share it out. We have really good technology systems in place and a strong support network where we address issues, unique situations, proposals, and activate new clients. We aim to be generous with our resources and dialoging with our facilitators is key for us to ensure that everyone is part of sowing into the continually growing body of knowledge. Supporting our facilitators allows us to focus on continually developing our product, and it makes us more agile. It also exposes us to a wide variety of industries.
SV: What is KnowledgeWorkx known for in terms of its products and services?
MB: In terms of products, we are uniquely known for our comprehensive Self-Cultural Analysis framework which incorporates the Three Cultures of Worldview and the 12 Dimensions of Culture tools. We offer certifications in the ICI (Inter-Cultural Intelligence) Development Framework, and also in Everything DISC through our partnership with Wiley, as well as 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team by Lencioni. Since human beings are wired both psychologically and culturally, we wanted to turn the spotlights on both since they are both behavior oriented. Through our consulting services, we offer support in organizational cultural development, merger and acquisitions, the HR space, teams and tweaking customer interfaces. Focusing on these areas creates more success for our customers by helping them grow faster and resolve conflict. In addition, this year we are significantly expanding our coaching piece as well. In October we will offer a licensed intercultural coaching program. We also offer Executive Education through our Learning & Development initiative.
SV: What other customers has KnowledgeWorkx worked with in the past?
MB: Our clients have included corporations, NGOs, government entities, academic institutions, etc. Many of them work internationally and have a large virtual work force from all over the globe. Universities have come to us for our methodology and now it’s being incorporated into degree programs so that students can enter the work force more prepared to navigate the increasingly global working world. We now have around 500 people embedded in larger organizations who we have trained as facilitators.
SV: How would you encourage LATRO as it grows in developing a more global DNA?
MB: I would reiterate that focusing on further ICI development within your organization is the way to go. It starts with awareness, then acceptance and finally adaption. LATRO’s leadership shouldn’t be surprised if difficult questions surface in this process. Every team is made up of either intercultural learners or intercultural critics, and conflict in this process is healthy and normal. Our hope at KnowledgeWorkx down the line is that ICI Development training will no longer be needed in a world that becomes increasingly more and more interculturally, as it will be normal.
SV: What resources are available on the KnowledgeWorkx website for those within LATRO who are interested in further developing their Inter-Cultural Intelligence?
MB: On our website there are articles and Whitepapers available. All of our resources are open sourced licensed, meaning that re-sharing is fine as long as the proper referencing occurs. I would also suggest they explore these specific resources:
Two Spotlights for Illuminating Human Behavior (link to article – read after Self-Cultural Analysis Overview article above)
Marco Blankenburgh is the founder and director of KnowledgeWorkx. He holds degrees in economics and strategic marketing management, speaks multiple languages and has lived in 6 countries and worked in over 70. As an author and developer of self-cultural analysis tools like the “Three Colors of Worldview” and the “Cultural Mapping inventory,” Marco has a deep and practical understanding of what it takes to develop Inter-Cultural Intelligence (ICI).