Do we know our own culture?

Yesterday, at a lecture about project management, the lecturer introduced a simple but, he claimed, useful tool for project management. It is the ‘project management triangle’. Simply, it is a triangle with the following things at its vertices: performance, resources and duration. We must decide where on this triangle we should place ourselves for this project. Of course, the position on the triangle represents the project priorities, and the trade-offs we are assuming.

But it was not so much the tool itself which I found interesting, but the lecturer’s comments about the biases of different cultures when using this model.

‘What would US culture prioritize?’ he asked. It was clear for me and for most of the audience (very mixed European - Asian crowd, with a sizeable Swedish component) that the correct answer was ‘performance’. Clearly, that is what USians value most. ‘What about Germans, then?’ he asked next. Duration, keeping up with the plan, was the audience’s answer this time. And it got me thinking ‘What would a Spanish project manager prioritize?’ and then Irealized that I have much more difficulty answering this question than the questions about other cultures. Is it that I am so close that I am ‘blind’ to that culture? Or that it is much easier to pigeonhole alien cultures? Is it that I am not a good representative of ‘Spanish culture’? And you, do you know what are the biases of your culture?

(The lecturer, by the way, was a certain David Williamson from Wenell, a Swedish project management consultancy.)