The COA For All Organizations


The business sphere of today is marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Every day in our VUCA world, millions of people must work across different cultural contexts, and communicate and collaborate with others from different backgrounds and with different cultural preferences. This cultural diversity is a critical resource for leaders to harness and mobilize within their organizations, but it requires that people at every level of a company develop cultural competence.

The Cultural Orientations Approach (COA) facilitates this by helping people develop an understanding of the cultural preferences that shape their own and their colleagues’ behaviors so that they can better adapt to new and different situations – something vital for the success of organizational performance objectives in our VUCA world. What’s more, organizations at every stage of growth can use cultural competence training, whether they are a company with active operations in a few markets and countries (defined broadly as “international”) or one operating across multiple markets and continents (defined broadly as “global”).

But even organizations that have been “global” for decades may require an infusion of cultural competence considering the rapid emergence of new markets with different consumer demographics, the diversification of the talent pool and changing workforce demographics, and increasing levels of cross-border transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions and private-public partnerships.

When global leaders begin to view cultural diversity as an opportunity, they must be prepared to adopt culturally appropriate practices and adapt ideas to the plethora of diverse situations emerging in a complex, multi-cultural environment. The kind of mindful cultural adaptation espoused by the COA is a critical enabler of successful business decision-making and adaptive strategies.  

Karen Walch