IndiaThink’s Cross Cultural Mastery Process – Assess Identify Mediate – AIM

Developing cross-cultural competencies starts with an examination of your own cultural preferences.  This process deconstructs the personal lens each of us uses daily to evaluate what to do when and why.  Most people do not realize that cultural pressures are the underlying guideposts driving the everyday decisions and behaviors that are effective in getting things done in the simplest as well as the most complex social settings.

AIM Circle Process Diagram

Culture exists in societies to make it easy to subconsciously decide what action is best. Without culture all activities would be confusing and unpredictable.

When working across cultures the answers change, making it confusing and at times overwhelming to decide what action is best.  Critically evaluating existing preferences makes it easier to accommodate a different culture.

IndiaThink uses a three-step framework called AIM.  The AIM process identifies current cultural preferences, compares them to those needed in the partner country and then offers actionable alternatives. This process is at the root of all IndiaThink’s methodologies from executive coaching to cross-cultural training to advisory services.


AssessArrowforAIMProcessThe assessment process begins by identifying existing cultural preferences. The strongest preferences begin in the country of birth followed by family preferences and overall life experience.  By performing an assessment and reviewing the results individuals begin to understand strengths they bring to a cross cultural relationship as well as weaknesses that may cause conflicts to develop if behavior alterations are not made.   This process isolates business instincts and assumptions used in subsequent AIM steps.

IdentifyAssessArrowComparing cultural preferences against those of the partner country is the next step in developing an action plan for working across cultures.  This comparison builds a new cultural lens to leverage during interactions.  This lens provides insight into what is different and may be right in a new culture, despite what individual instincts might believe is wrong.  In this phase the more dramatic differences between client and partner country are identified as possible top problem generators.  An assessment is also made of aspects where cultures may initially seem similar but still differ due to additional cultural factors.

MediateArrowAimProcessAfter identifying major differences between cultural preferences the final step is mediation. During this process a series of actionable alternatives are created specifically for each client.  These alternatives become keys that will enable clients to engage the partner culture in a way that is expected.  For example, when beginning engagement with India, Americans will typically see that India is very competitive.  But, competition in India must be taken inside the lens that India is a collectivist society.  This difference makes the approach to competition inside organizations different in that it will be more acceptable to incentivize teams rather than individuals.

The AIM process is used to coach leaders in developing an openness to new alternatives across cultures, organizations to understand ”how things work around here” compared to how things work in India, and in human resource practices to understand the differing incentives that encourage employees to stay with an organization.