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Research Paper Assessment

Name: Tamara Lebak
Date: 5/11/2012
Student ID:

Complete your 2000 word research paper and insert it in the space below. Then
email this document as an attachment to assessment@icoachacademy.com

Using the Intercultural Development Inventory in Coaching
Tamara Lebak

Table of Contents

What is Culture?.........................................................................................................3
What is Intercultural Competence?............................................................................3
What is the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)?...........................................4
How does the IDI enhance diversity coaching practice?...........................................7
What is the IDI Personal Development Plan(PDP)? ……………………………….8
What are the broader applications of the IDI and the IDP to coaching?....................9

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Appendix A: Sample Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)………
Appendix B: Sample Intercultural Development Plan (IDP)…………


The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is a statistically reliable, cross-culturally
valid measure of intercultural competence adapted from the Developmental Model of
Intercultural Sensitivity (also called the Bennett scale.) The scale sheds light on how
individuals respond to cultural difference. The IDI assesses the response to obvious
cultural differences (e.g. country, ethnicity, and language), as well as subtle cultural
differences found beneath the context of one’s broader culture (e.g. patterns of handling
emotions, conflict style, definitions of respect and power). Coaching using the IDI helps
focus a client on how they experience difference and is a developmental model that can
assist a client in becoming more effective in the world by narrowing the gap between
intent and impact as well as increasing their capacity to experience difference in the

What is Culture?

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In 1976, Edward T. Hall developed a model for understanding implicit and explicit or
conscious and unconscious culture. Hall envisioned culture as an iceberg with explicit
and visible behavior as the tip of the iceberg: food, language, skin color, clothing, etc.
What lies below the surface (and ultimately what sank the Titanic!) is our implicit and
unconscious culture. These are the underlying beliefs, patterns of thought, and values
that dictate our behavior. This aspect of our culture must be brought to the surface in
order to be able to make conscious choice about our behavior.
The IDI measures a person’s orientation toward cultural difference and
commonality and can help a client reflect on his/her experiences around cultural
differences and similarities. The IDI profile can help a client increase his/her own
cultural self-awareness. It is this cultural self awareness of what lies “beneath the
surface” that can assist a client in getting more of what they want as well as become more
effective in matching their impact and their intentions.
Intercultural Competence

Intercultural Competence is a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and
characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural
contexts. (Bennett J. , 2011) Intercultural Competence includes cognitive skills such as:
cultural self-awareness, Culture-general knowledge, culture-specific knowledge, and
Interaction analysis. Intercultural Competency requires affective skills such as curiosity,
cognitive flexibility, motivation and open mindedness. Behavioral skills which affect
cultural competency are patience, empathy, listening, problem solving, and information
gathering skills.

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What is the Intercultural Development Inventory?

The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) was developed based on the
Developmental Model of Cultural Sensitivity (DMIS) originally created by Milton
Bennett. The IDI identifies specific developmental orientations placing subjects on a
continuum from mono-cultural to more intercultural mindsets. “This Continuum
indicates that individuals who have a more intercultural mindset have a greater capability
for responding effectively to cultural differences and recognizing and building upon true
commonalities.” That is to say that effectiveness in achieving goals is better served when
differences are understood, commonalities are recognized, and this information is used in
order to make informed, intentional, and culturally appropriate responses to facilitate
meaning and personal
Those with monocultural mindsets use their own cultural values and practices,
stereotypes, and as the lens with which to make meaning from cultural difference and

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are less capable of incorporating complexity and ambiguity. Those with intercultural or
global mindsets are ethno-relative in making meaning of cultural difference and are able
to support more complex perceptions and experiences of cultural difference.
Ethnocentric Orientations
Denial: People in the denial orientation do not recognize the existence of cultural
differences. They are completely ethnocentric in that they believe there is a
correct type of living (theirs), and that those who behave differently simply don’t
know any better. In this phase, people are prone to imposing their value system
upon others, believing that they are “right” and that others who are different are
“confused.” They are not threatened by cultural differences because they refuse to
accept them. Generally, those who experience cultural denial have not had
extensive contact with people different from themselves, and thus have no
experiential basis for believing in other cultures. (Bennett M. J., 2004)

Defense: Those in the defense orientation are no longer blissfully ignorant of
other cultures; they recognize the existence of other cultures, but not their
validity. They feel threatened by the presence of other ways of thinking, and thus
denigrate them in an effort to assert the superiority of their own culture.
Differences are seen as problems to be overcome, and there is a dualistic “us vs.
them” mentality. Whereas those in the denial orientation are unthreatened by the
presence of other cultural value systems those in the defense orientation feel
threatened by “competing” cultures. People in the defense orientation tend to
surround themselves with members of their own culture, and avoid contact with
members from other cultures. (Bennett M. J., 2004)

Minimization: People in the minimization orientation of ethnocentrism are still
threatened by cultural differences, and therefore try to minimize them by telling
themselves that people are more similar than dissimilar. No longer do they see
those from other cultures as being misguided, inferior, or unfortunate. They still
have not developed cultural self-awareness, and are insistent about getting along
with everyone. Because they assume that all cultures are fundamentally similar,
people in this orientation fail to tailor their approaches to a cultural
context. (Bennett M. J., 2004)

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Ethnorelative Orientations:

Acceptance: In this first orientation of ethnorelativism, people begin not only to
recognize other cultures but to accept them as viable alternatives to their own
worldview. They know that people are genuinely different from them, and accept
the inevitability of other value systems and behavioral norms. They do not yet
adapt their own behavior to the cultural context, but they no longer see other
cultures as threatening, wrong, or inferior. People in the acceptance phase can be
thought of as “culture-neutral,” seeing differences as neither good nor bad, but
rather as a fact of life. (Bennett M. J., 2004)

Adaptation: During the adaptation phase, people begin to view cultural
differences as a valuable resource, and thus relish the differences. Because
differences are seen as positive, people consciously adapt their behaviors to the
different cultural norms of their environment. (Bennett M. J., 2004)

Integration: Integration is the last orientation in one’s journey away from
ethnocentrism. In this orientation, people accept that their identity is not based in
any single culture. Once integrated, people can effortlessly and even
unconsciously shift between worldviews and cultural frames of reference. Though
they maintain their own cultural identity, they naturally integrate aspects of other
cultures into it. (Bennett M. J., 2004)

The IDI profile presents not only an orientation placement on the developmental
scale but has also statistically calculated a perceived versus an actual or developmental
orientation. The perceived orientation indicates a client’s self perception of how they
encounter difference while the developmental score is an actual assessment of how
effective a client is at encountering difference. The orientation gap is then calculated to
determine if the client overestimates or underestimates their ability to effectively
encounter difference.

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The IDI also measures Trailing Orientations which are those orientations which
have not been fully resolved and so will be used by a client to make sense of cultural
differences at particular times, around certain topics or in specific situations especially
under stress. (Hammer, 2003)

How Does the IDI Enhance Diversity Coaching Practice?
The IDI provides a statistically valid assessment of how a client experiences difference.
In coaching, understanding a client’s orientation on the DMIS as determined by the IDI
can assist a coach to better support the client to become more effective in dealing with
difference and change. Milton Bennett in his development of the DMIS also determined
appropriate interventions in order to help someone move from one stage to the next.
Appropriate interventions are key in order to be effective. Intervening at a
developmentally inappropriate level will confuse or disinterest a client. Interventions are
summarized below.

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(Zemsky, 2011)
The IDI also provides a Personalized Development Plan (PDP) that a coach and client
can use in order to shape a clients goals and learning. Coaches and clients can work
together to create a plan that supports the client’s learning based on their orientation.
Perceived gap scores can assist in supporting a client to become more effective in
communicating and achieving their goals.

What is the IDI Idividual Development Plan (IDP)?
Each IDI comes with a Individual Development Plan (IDP) specific to that clients
orientation results. The IDP assists clients and coaches in determining key goals and

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progress indicators important to the client, intercultural stress points where a client is
more likely to be challenged personally, socially or at work. Each IDP identifies
strengths of the Developmental Orientation as well as the developmental opportunities.
Specific suggestions of activities that are developmentally appropriate are included in the
IDP so that coach and client can create opportunities for growth.

What are the broader applications of the IDI and the IDP to coaching?

The application of the IDI and the IDP in coaching is much broader than understanding
how exchange students or business professionals will succeed in multicultural work
environments. The IDI and the IDP are effective in assisting caches and their clients to
better understand their own culture as well as the culture of their marriage, their family,
their workplace, their working group, their neighborhood, their community, even their
coaching relationship. In order to be effective change agents for themselves and in a
system, clients benefit from understanding how they encounter difference and how to
more effectively engage with difference by having tools in their toolkit to do so. The IDI
and the IDP do just that.

The Intercultural Development Inventory and its Development Plan are effective
coaching tools. The frame presented by the Developmental Model of Intercultural
Sensitivity is non-threatening and supportive as a frame to understand how individuals
encounter difference. Because of its broad application possibilities, coaches can use
specific and far reaching definitions of culture to enhance a clients understanding of their

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orientation to difference. Becoming more aware of that orientation and being offered
developmentally appropriate interventions helps coaches and clients develop their
orientation along the continuum. In this increasingly global climate, how individuals
encounter difference can affect how business leaders successfully lead companies,
whether marriages stay together, how effective clients can be in the workplace and

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Intercultural Development
Inventory v.3 (IDI)



Prepared for:

Prepared by:

In conjunction with Mitchell R. Hammer, Ph.D.

The IDI v.3 is developed and copyrighted (2007-2011) by
Mitchell R. Hammer, Ph.D.,
P.O. Box 1388
Berlin, Maryland 21811

For information or ordering the
IDI, contact:


Success in the 21
century in our corporations and nonprofit organizations demands the
development of intercultural competence. Intercultural competence spans both international and
domestic workplace contexts and is essential for leaders and staff in our organizations.

A Profile Specific to Your Experience

Your IDI Individual Profile Report provides valuable information about your own orientations
toward cultural difference and commonality. Please be assured that the Intercultural
Development Inventory (IDI) is a cross-culturally valid and reliable assessment of intercultural
competence. It is developed using rigorous psychometric protocols with over 5,000 respondents
from a wide range of cultures. Further, “back translation” procedures were followed in
accurately translating the IDI into a number of languages.

The IDI Individual Profile can help you reflect on your experiences around cultural differences
and similarities. As you review your IDI profile results, consider past situations in which you
attempted to make sense of cultural differences and similarities. Re-framing your understanding
of past events in this way can help you uncover assumptions that may have guided your actions
in these situations. In addition, you may wish to focus on a situation or challenge you are
currently facing in which cultural differences and similarities have emerged. In the workplace,
these challenges can range from changing community demographics, achieving organizational
profit or human resource goals, creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, globalizing
your organization’s service or product offerings, maintaining safety within all global operations,
facilitating successful mergers and acquisitions, selecting and preparing expatriates for
international assignments, and global leadership development. As an individual, cross-cultural
challenges in the workplace can arise around manager-employee relations, developing
cooperative relations with other key executives, motivating others toward increased effectiveness
and efficiency in achieving identified goals, and successful leadership of a diverse workforce.
Your IDI Profile results can help you proactively address these and other concerns as well as
increase your cultural “self-awareness” of your own, unique experiences around cultural
differences and commonalities. As you reflect on your IDI Individual Profile results, consider the

Did you respond to each of the statements in the IDI honestly? If so, then the IDI
profile will be an accurate indicator of your approach for dealing with cultural

Did you think about your culture group and other cultures with which you have had
the most experience when responding to the IDI? For example, if you thought of some
idealized “other culture” with which you have had little experience, then you might
consider re-taking the IDI.

Have you had or are currently experiencing a significant professional or personal
transitional experience (e.g., moving to another country, traumatic event)? If so, in
some cases, your responses to the IDI may reflect your struggle with this transitional
situation rather than your more stable orientation toward cultural differences. If this is the
case, you may consider re-taking the IDI at a later date.

Intercultural Development Continuum

Intercultural competence is the capability to accurately understand and adapt behavior to
cultural difference and commonality. Intercultural competence reflects the degree to which
cultural differences and commonalities in values, expectations, beliefs, and practices are
effectively bridged, an inclusive environment is achieved, and specific differences that exist in
your organization are addressed from a “mutual adaptation” perspective.
People are not alike in their capabilities to recognize and effectively respond to cultural
differences and commonalities. The intercultural development continuum (figure 1 below),
adapted from the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity originally proposed by Dr.
Milton Bennett, identifies specific orientations that range from more monocultural to more
intercultural or global mindsets.
This continuum indicates that individuals who have a more intercultural mindset have a greater
capability for responding effectively to cultural differences and recognizing and building upon
true commonalities. That is, your success in achieving workplace goals is better served when you
are able to more deeply understand culturally learned differences, recognize commonalities
between yourself and others, and act on this increased insight in culturally appropriate ways that
facilitate performance, learning and personal growth among diverse groups.

Monocultural Mindsets Intercultural/Global Mindsets
Makes sense of cultural differences and
commonalities based on one’s own cultural
values and practices

Makes sense of cultural differences and
commonalities based on one’s own and other
culture’s values and practices

Uses broad stereotypes to identify cultural

Supports less complex perceptions and
experiences of cultural difference and
Uses cultural generalizations to recognize
cultural difference

Supports more complex perceptions and
experiences of cultural difference and

The specific competence orientations identified in the developmental continuum are Denial,
Polarization (Defense & Reversal), Minimization, Acceptance, and Adaptation (figure 1). The
IDI also measures Cultural Disengagement as a separate dimension. Cultural Disengagement is
not a dimension of intercultural competence along the continuum. Nevertheless, it is an important
aspect of how people relate to their own culture group and other cultures.


Denial An orientation that likely recognizes more observable cultural
differences (e.g., food) but may not notice deeper cultural
difference (e.g., conflict resolution styles) and may avoid or
withdraw from cultural differences.



A judgmental orientation that views cultural differences in
terms of “us” and “them”. This can take the form of:

An uncritical view toward one’s own cultural values and
practices and an overly critical view toward other cultural
values and practices.

An overly critical orientation toward one’s own cultural
values and practices and an uncritical view toward other
cultural values and practices.

Minimization An orientation that highlights cultural commonality and
universal values and principles that may also mask deeper
recognition and appreciation of cultural differences.

Acceptance An orientation that recognizes and appreciates patterns of
cultural difference and commonality in one’s own and other

Adaptation An orientation that is capable of shifting cultural perspective
and changing behavior in culturally appropriate and authentic

A sense of disconnection or detachment from a primary
cultural group.

How to Interpret the IDI Profile

The IDI Profile presents information about how you make sense of and respond to cultural differences
and commonalities. In addition to demographic and statistical summaries, the IDI profile presents the
following information:

Perceived Orientation (PO): Your Perceived Orientation (PO) reflects where you place yourself
along the intercultural development continuum. Your Perceived Orientation can be Denial,
Polarization (Defense/Reversal), Minimization, Acceptance or Adaptation.

Developmental Orientation (DO): The Developmental Orientation (DO) indicates your primary
orientation toward cultural differences and commonalities along the continuum as assessed by the
IDI. The DO is the perspective you most likely use in those situations where cultural differences
and commonalities need to be bridged. Your Developmental Orientation can be Denial,
Polarization (Defense/Reversal), Minimization, Acceptance or Adaptation.

Orientation Gap (OG): The Orientation Gap (OG) is the difference along the continuum
between your Perceived Orientation and Developmental Orientation. A gap score of seven points
or higher indicates a meaningful difference between the Perceived Orientation and the assessed
Developmental Orientation. The larger the gap, the more likely you may be “surprised” by the
discrepancy between your Perceived Orientation score and Developmental Orientation score.

• A Perceived Orientation score that is seven points or higher than the Developmental
Orientation score indicates an overestimation of your intercultural competence.

• A Developmental Orientation score that is seven points or higher than the Perceived
Orientation score indicates an underestimation of your intercultural competence.

Trailing Orientations (TO): Trailing orientations are those orientations that are “in back of”
your Developmental Orientation (DO) on the intercultural continuum that are not “resolved”.
When an earlier orientation is not resolved, this “trailing” perspective may be used to make sense
of cultural differences at particular times, around certain topics, or in specific situations. Trailing
Orientations, when they arise, tend to “pull you back” from your Developmental Orientation for
dealing with cultural differences and commonalities. The IDI identifies the level of resolution you
have attained regarding possible Trailing Orientations.

Leading Orientations (LO): Leading Orientations are those orientations that are immediately
“in front” of your Developmental Orientation (DO). A Leading Orientation is the next step to take
in further development of intercultural competence. For example, if your Developmental
Orientation is Minimization, then your Leading Orientations (LO) would be Acceptance and

Cultural Disengagement (CD): The Cultural Disengagement score indicates how connected or
disconnected you feel toward your own cultural community. Cultural Disengagement is not a
dimension of intercultural competence along the developmental continuum. Rather, it is a
separate dimension of how disconnected or detached people feel toward their own cultural group.

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Intercultural Development
Inventory v.3 (IDI)



Prepared for:

Prepared by:

In conjunction with Mitchell R. Hammer, Ph.D.

The IDI® and the IDI Intercultural Development Plan®
are registered Trademarks and Copyrighted (2007, 2011) by
Mitchell R. Hammer, Ph.D.,
P.O. Box 1388
Berlin, Maryland 21811
For information or ordering the
IDI, contact:

Completing the Intercultural Development Inventory® and reviewing your own individual IDI®
profile results with an IDI Qualified Administrator provides key insights into how you make
sense cultural differences. The next step is to systematically increase your intercultural
competence by working through your Intercultural Development Plan™ (IDP). This Plan is
specifically customized to your particular IDI Profile results. After completing the suggested
activities in your IDP, you should again take the IDI to determine your progress in increasing
your intercultural competence. Accompanying this new IDI profile report will be another
customized and different Intercultural Development Plan that can help you further increase your
skills in shifting cultural perspective and adapting behavior.

By completing this customized, Individual Development Plan, you will:

Gain insights concerning intercultural challenges you are facing and identify
intercultural competence development goals that are important for you,

Gain increased understanding of how your Developmental Orientation (and Trailing
Orientation(s), if any) impacts how you perceive and respond to cultural differences
and commonalities, and

Identify and engage in targeted, developmental learning that increases your
intercultural competence in bridging across diverse communities.

Some of us may believe that as we gain experience in the world, we should be better at
communicating and interacting effectively with people who are from different cultures. We may
also believe that traveling and living in another country for a period of time automatically results
in our developing greater intercultural competence. Unfortunately, these are two common myths
regarding the development of intercultural competence. Intercultural competence does not
simply happen as a result of being in another culture. For example, assume you are from the
United States and you go to Japan live for six months—or even six years! Does this mean that
you increased your ability to shift cultural perspective and adapt behavior more effectively as a
result of your “Japanese experience”? Not necessarily. You may have lived in and experienced
Japan largely from your own, monocultural perspective. You may, for instance, have lived in an
area of Japan where people from your own culture predominate and your relationships may have
remained largely with people from your own cultural group. Further, your behavior may have
changed little even though you were working and living Japan rather than the United States.
Under these circumstances, you would likely gain little intercultural competence development.


Developing intercultural competence is a self-reflective, intentional process focused on
understanding patterns of difference and commonality between yourself (and your cultural
group) and other culture group’s perceptions, values and practices. It is this self-reflective,
intentional process that is highlighted in this Intercultural Development Plan. Before working
through your Individual Development Plan (IDP), it is important that you have reviewed and
understood the Intercultural Development Continuum (the foundational concepts identified in the
revised DMIS (Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity). This information may have
come from a presentation by a qualified IDI administrator and/or information from our website,
www.idiinventory.com. You may also have received information about your “Group IDI Profile”
and/or feedback regarding your own individual IDI profile results from an IDI Qualified

Concentrated, self-reflective efforts at building your intercultural competence—tailored to your
own IDI profile results—can result in movement along the developmental continuum of one or
more orientations (e.g., from Minimization to Acceptance and to Adaptation). These efforts can
include a wide variety of activities. Below is a list of ten key learning opportunities to consider
for your Intercultural Development Plan. Throughout this IDP, look for ways to incorporate
some of the suggestions given into one or more of these ten powerful learning arenas.


Whi ch of these ten l earni ng opportuni ti es can you do to
accompl i sh your i ntercul tural goal s and address your
i ntercul tural stress poi nts? Bel ow i s a descri pti on of these ten
l earni ng opportuni ti es to consi der as you create your
I ntercul tural Devel opment Pl an.
Film &
Travel Coaching

Training programs: Are there training programs offered by your
organization, educational institution or community that focuses on
intercultural relations? These programs may include e-learning
training on cultural patterns, websites that present solid information on
cultural differences, and various programs that review both culture
general patterns of difference as well as culture specific dimensions.

Workplace activities: Are there workplace committees and groups in
which you can participate to build your intercultural skills? This can
include participating in your organization’s diversity and inclusion
efforts, joining various affiliation/affinity/employee resource groups,
volunteering on diversity or inclusion committees, and taking on
additional work-related responsibilities that involve cultural bridging.

Theatre, Film & Arts: Are you able to attend cross-cultural movies,
plays and other artistic exhibits and performances? Use the
opportunity to attend cross-cultural theatre/film/art events to increase
your own cultural self-awareness as well as learn about the cultural
perspective found in the theater/film/art work. Such events often hold
post event discussions that allow you to explore the concepts
presented with others who share your interest.

Educational classes: Are there classes at your community college or
university that focus on cross-cultural communication and cross-
cultural relations? Other useful courses include ethnic and gender
studies classes.

Personal interactions: Could you engage in intentional work-related,
personal, social, or community interactions with people from different
cultures? This could focus on cross-cultural communication with
others in ways that provide insights into how people from other
cultures experience the world and more specifically, how their
experiences are similar and/or different from your own.

Intercultural journal: Could you keep an intercultural journal in
which you reflect on cultural differences and commonalities you
observe in your daily interactions with people from other cultural
groups? In what ways do these individuals perceive, value and act that
is similar to or different from your own group? You might consider
focusing your intercultural journal on “critical incidents”—that is,
situations you have observed or been a part of in which cultural
differences arose and you and/or others needed to understand those
differences and then respond appropriately. You can structure this
journal in terms of: who was involved, what happened, what you think
were the cultural differences present, how people responded, and the

Film &

Books: Are there books you would like to read that specifically
describe and explain patterns of cultural difference and similarity?
Many of these books can be obtained from
www.interculturalpress.com. Select books that relate to past, current
or future cross-cultural settings you have or will have some
experience. These settings can be domestic (within your own country)
or international (cultural groups you may be working with who are
outside your own country). There are also many novels and fiction
books that can provide insights into the history and cultural norms of
culturally diverse groups.

Travel: Are there cross-cultural travel opportunities on the horizon
where you can systematically observe and engage cultural diversity?
When visiting or traveling for shorter periods of time in other cultures,
make efforts to experience how people from that cultural community
interact, make decisions, share information, and treat “visitors”.

Intercultural coaching: Is there an opportunity to contract for IDI
Guided Development® coaching? This kind of one-on-one
engagement should be done with an IDI Qualified Administrator who
also has experience and training in workplace coaching. Reviewing
your IDP with a coach can be helpful to your own development.

Site visits: Are there specific cultural/ethnic site visits that can
increase your knowledge about diverse cultural experiences? Visit, for
instance various museums and centers in which diverse cultural group
experiences are represented. Many countries have National Museums
of Art and Culture, within the U.S. you might visit the National Civil
Rights Museum or Ellis Island. Make additional efforts to engage a
Docent or someone who can be share their expertise with you in order
for you to gain a deeper understanding of your site visit.

Remember, however, it is not simply participating in activities or attending cultural events that is
important; rather, it is the intentional reflection on the cultural patterns of commonality and
difference that make up these activities/events that will contribute to your intercultural
competence development.

You should plan to spend approximately thirty to fifty hours of concentrated effort at building
intercultural competence to achieve a gain of one full orientation (or more) along the
Intercultural Development Continuum. While this thirty to fifty hour recommendation is not
rigid, it nevertheless provides a guideline for you to determine the time frame you should plan to
dedicate to your Intercultural Development Plan.

It is recommended that working on your Intercultural Development Plan should take place over
approximately three to nine months, with participation in training or some coaching interaction
that can range from weekly interaction to once-a-month programs or dialogues. To initiate this
process, the information in this Intercultural Development Plan is an important first step.


The following five-step process will help guide you through your Intercultural Development Plan

Review your IDI Individual Profile results

Describe your intercultural background in terms of your IDI Profile results

Analyze developmental goals and progress indicators

Identify those intercultural stress points that are barriers to your goal attainment

Create your Intercultural Development Plan (IDP)

Each of these five steps is explained in greater detail in the following sections with sample
activities for each step.

Developing intercultural competence is a core
capability in the 21
century and involves
cultural self-awareness, understanding the
experiences of people from diverse
communities, and the capability to adapt
one’s mindset and behavior to bridge across
Mitchell R. Hammer, 2011

As a first step, review the results from your individual IDI profile. Take some time to
answer the following questions. Some of these questions you may have already discussed
with an IDI Qualified Administrator; if so, then you can move more quickly through these

1 .1 What are your overal l Devel opmental Ori entati on and Percei ved
Ori entati on? Check your ori entati on i n each col umn.

Developmental Orientation Perceived Orientation

1 .2 I s there an Ori entati on Gap between your Devel opmental
Ori entati on and your Percei ved Ori entati on i ndi cated i n your I DI
profi l e? What does thi s mean i n terms of your own sense of how
capabl e you are i n shi fti ng cul tural perspecti ve and appropri atel y
adapti ng behavi or around cul tural di fferences and commonal i ti es?

1 .3 Do you have any Trai l i ng Ori entati ons? I f so, what are they? What
i mpact do you feel these Trai l i ng Ori entati ons have i n terms of
“hol di ng you back” from more effecti vel y deal i ng wi th cul tural
di fferences and commonal i ti es?

1 .4 What i s your Leadi ng Ori entati on? As you desi gn your I ntercul tural
Devel opment Pl an, your Devel opmental Ori entati on and your
Leadi ng Ori entati on are the Ori entati ons on whi ch your
devel opment pl anni ng shoul d focus.

r Denial
r Polarization
r Minimization
r Acceptance
r Adaptation

r Denial
r Polarization
r Minimization
r Acceptance
r Adaptation


Surprisingly, people often have not thought much about the experiences they have had—or not
had—around cultural differences and commonalities. For some of us, we may have had quite
varied and extensive living and working experiences in different countries yet have not reflected
much on those experiences. For others of us, we may think we have had little “cross-cultural”
experience when in fact we may have had significant cultural influences on how we live our lives
and the goals we set for our work teams and ourselves.
2.1 Take a moment to refl ect on your experi ences wi th cul tural l y di verse

§ When did you first become aware of cultural groups that were different from your own?

§ What kinds of experiences have you had with people from different cultural

§ What has been challenging and what has been rewarding in interacting with people from
different cultures?

2.2 Li sted bel ow are 1 2 pri mary di mensi ons of di versi ty. Put a check
mark by the three di versi ty di mensi ons that have most i nfl uenced
your vi ews of cul tural commonal i ti es and di fferences?

Diversity Dimension Check (✓) your Top Three
Diversity Dimensions

Family background
Educational background
Home/geographic “roots”
Sexual orientation
Socio-economic status
Work experience


2.3 How have your top three di versi ty di mensi ons i nfl uenced (1 ) your
perspecti ve toward cul tural si mi l ari ti es and di fferences, and (2)
your work practi ces? I f thi s i s di ffi cul t, you may wi sh to return to
thi s questi on l ater i n the process.
2.4 I n what ways mi ght your experi ences wi th peopl e from your own
nati onal i ty/ethni c group and wi th peopl e from di fferent countri es
and ethni ci ti es have i nfl uenced:

§ Your perceptions about what you find challenging in working with people from
difference cultures?

§ Your Developmental Orientation identified in your IDI individual profile?

The third step is to identify key goals and progress indicators important to you. These goals
should focus on what you would like to achieve when cultural differences and commonalities are
present and need to be successfully navigated. The progress indicators are how you will know
you are achieving your goals.

Review your responses to the contexting questions in your individual IDI profile in identifying
your goals.

3. 1 I denti fy 3-5 goal s and thei r progress i ndi cators that you are wi l l i ng
to commi t to achi evi ng i n the i mmedi ate future. Make sure these goal s
are i mportant to you and are di rectl y rel ated to i ncreasi ng your
abi l i ty to effecti vel y navi gate cross-cul tural di fferences and
commonal i ti es.

Wri te out each goal and progress i ndi cator i n the fol l owi ng format:

I would like to . . . . I will know I have made progress on this goal
when . . . .

Here are two exampl es of di fferent goal /progress i ndi cator

Goal #1: I would like to more deeply understand how my own cultural community has
influenced some of my core beliefs and values.
Progress Indicator #1: I will know I have made progress on this goal when I can better
explain my own views and values in cultural terms to people from my own cultural
community and to people from diverse groups.

Goal #2: I would like to increase my leadership in my organization around diversity and
inclusion efforts.
Progress Indicator #2: I will know I have made progress on this goal when I volunteer
and become a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, when I insure each of
our monthly work meetings includes an agenda item related to our team’s progress in
meeting diversity and inclusion goals, and when I engage in conversations about cultural
differences with people from my own cultural group and other cultural communities.


The next step is to identify those work-related, personal, social or community challenges or
situations you are facing or will be facing in which cultural differences and commonalities
“make a difference”. These challenges or situations should be related to your goals to be more
interculturally successful that you identified in step 3.

One way to think about these situations is to think of them as intercultural stress points where
you are challenged to be more effective around cultural differences. For example, some people
find situations in the workplace that revolves around how to handle disagreements or conflicts
when the other party is from a cultural community different from their own to be challenging.
Another situation might involve how to more effectively interview diverse talent for your
organization. A third situation may involve how to more effectively manage classroom learning
when students are from multiple cultural backgrounds. As you think about these situations, you
might find it useful to refer back to your responses to the contexting questions in your individual
IDI profile.

4. 1 I denti fy 3-5 i ntercul tural stress poi nts that you fi nd chal l engi ng i n
effecti vel y respondi ng to cul tural di fferences. These i ntercul tural
stress poi nts shoul d descri be si tuati ons you face that you bel i eve
i nterfere wi th your effecti vel y accompl i shi ng the goal s you i denti fi ed
earl i er i n Step 3 of thi s I DP.

4. 2 How do these stress poi nts act as barri ers to you bei ng as effecti ve
as you’ d l i ke to be? Consi der factors over whi ch you have some
control and the removal of whi ch woul d enhance your capabi l i ty i n
navi gati ng cul tural di fferences and commonal i ti es.


This section highlights questions, activities, and opportunities for intercultural development
related to your specific Developmental Orientation and Leading Orientation. Not every
suggestion may be useful to you. Review the various suggestions and select those you feel would
be most beneficial to increasing your understanding of cultural differences and commonalities
and helping you more effectively adapt to observed differences.

The first set of suggestions is related to your primary Developmental Orientation while the
second set of suggestions focuses on your Leading Orientation. You should review these
suggestions in the order presented, first working through suggestions related to your
Developmental Orientation and then moving to activities related to your Leading Orientation.

The suggestions are organized into three main developmental categories:

 This symbol refers to a learning suggestion that involves reflection on past, current or
future perceptions, values, and behaviors.

! This symbol identifies a topic that is suited for writing your thoughts and observations in
an intercultural journal.

 This symbol refers to an activity in which you do something that is beneficial in building
your intercultural competence.

When selecting some of the suggestions provided, we encourage you to select those
recommendations that you feel would be most helpful and applicable to you, your goals and the
situations (intercultural stress points) you identified earlier in the developmental plan. This will
best support your intercultural competence development. Your IDI® development journey is
now underway. Aldous Huxley, after he returned from his first overseas exploration, said:

So the journey is over and I am back again, richer by much experience and
poorer by many exploded convictions, many perished certainties . . . I set out on
my travels knowing or thinking I knew, how [people] should live, how be
governed, how educated, what they should believe. I had my views on every
activity of life. Now, on my return, I find myself without any of these pleasing
certainties . . . When one is traveling, convictions are mislaid as easily as
spectacles, but unlike spectacles, they are not easily replaced.
Quoted in J. Wurzel, 2004, Toward Multiculturalism, p. 7


An orientation that is capable of shifting cultural perspective and changing behavior in culturally
appropriate and authentic ways.


You have a deep understanding of at least one other culture and are comfortable bridging cultural

Developmental Opportunity:

Your developmental opportunity is to continue to build on your knowledge of cultural
differences and to further develop skills for adapting to these differences. It is beneficial for you
to develop cultural mediation and advocacy strategies so that you will be able to more effectively
assist others in your community and organization who do not have the experience and skills to
bridge cultural differences on their own. Learning more deeply about cultural patterns of
difference is a lifelong process. Therefore, you task is to further deepen your Acceptance
(understanding) mindset and to incorporate adaptive strategies when interacting across cultural

Suggestions for An Adaptation Orientation:

Continue to learn about others by increasing your interactions with other
cultural groups so you can gain further knowledge, skills and comfort in
adapting. In these situations, in contrast to your earlier work in building an
Acceptance mindset, focus more attention on developing perspective shifting and
behavioral skills for bridging across cultural differences. Examples include:

 Everyday encounters with people (where you shop, in your social networks, your
professional networks and at your workplace). Look for ways to authentically
engage others in ways that are adaptive for you.

 Professional development (join diversity, multicultural, international networks
within your regional and local organizations). Look for ways to authentically
bridge across cultural differences.

 Academic and cultural presentations (attend formal presentations where you can
gain in-depth knowledge and engage in dialogue with others who have similar
interests and questions). When dialoguing, look for opportunities to stretch your
behavioral repertoire.

 Ask for input from trusted colleagues and friends from outside your cultural group
to share their experiences of common ways they are misunderstood, what assists
them in feeling accepted in their communities and what strategies are successful
for them in adapting across cultural differences.

 Identify one or more individuals in your organization whom you have seen
interacting successfully across cultures. Ask this person to mentor you and to
share strategies and opportunities to dialogue with you. Focus on how you can
better “make sense” of situations from that person’s cultural perspective and what
behavioral adaptations are appropriate.

 Consider opportunities for more training in intercultural competence (courses,
workshops, readings) to learn tangible ways cultures can differ, culture specific
information, and successful models of individual and organizational adaptation.

 Review M.R. Hammer’s Intercultural Conflict Style (ICS) model and assessment
inventory at: www.icsinventory.com.

 Engage in targeted contrast culture readings, including books and articles that
provide a comparative analysis of culture general frameworks (e.g. individualism
vs. collectivism) as well as novels written by authors from or set in cultures
different from your own. Review materials on culture general and culture specific
patterns of cultural difference by visiting www.interculturalpress.com. Lists of
novels can be found at websites such as http://nceawidereading.wikispaces.com.
Make a concerted effort to truly shift cultural perspective and to engage in
adaptive behaviors based on these cultural frameworks.

 Read newspapers and magazines online from other countries or cultural
communities. Pay attention to how writers from diverse cultures may report a
major, global event from a different perspective than writers from your own
cultural group. This can highlight differences that you may not have thought
about previously.

Select a culture in your community with which you are less comfortable and
about which you have less knowledge.

 Apply your skills in observing, reflecting, and understanding different cultural
values and behaviors of the culture you selected.

 Find ways to get involved with various cultural groups and organizations (e.g.,
refugee resettlement organizations or Sister-City organizations in your local
community). Consider ways to engage with them as a peer as well as from an
outside expert position if appropriate.

 Encourage your organization to put resources into developing cultural
competencies of all stakeholders.

 Continue to draw upon a broad network of culturally diverse individuals to inform
you in your roles in your organization and community. Identify areas in which
you need to expand your network.

Form a small group of motivated individuals to collaborate on diversity,
inclusion and intercultural competence advocacy strategies. Where does your
workplace need to focus first and how can you help them develop a plan?

 Acknowledge to yourself that your expertise and knowledge of one or more cultural
groups can sometimes lead to fatigue and allow yourself opportunities for on-going
support from the small group you formed.

Check whether others may see you in ways that discount your experiences across
cultures. What can you do to build better relations with others who may not
share the same adaptation orientation as you?

 Acknowledge to yourself that your expertise and knowledge of one or more cultural
groups may be useful to others, but only if you can share your resources in ways
that value the other person’s viewpoint and experience.

Do you have difficulty remaining in one organization or geographical place
because you become frustrated that the people or the organizations are not as
far along the developmental continuum as you think they should be?

 Recognize that your desire to “exit” organizations or places may be due to your
own frustration and/or inability to bridge across different developmental

 Reflect on whether some of the difficulties or frustrations you may have in helping
individuals and organizations become more interculturally competent could be due
to your lack of awareness and understanding that not all people share your
Adaptation mindset? That is, individuals with a Denial, Polarization, Minimization
or Acceptance orientation make sense of cultural differences and commonalities in
ways consistent with their developmental orientation—not in ways consistent with
an Adaptation mindset.

 What can you do to bridge across different developmental orientations so that your
cross-cultural effectiveness is increased?

 Find positive strategies to engage others around intercultural learning and
development in ways that do not make your own views and experiences the center
of attention.

Summary questions for reflection

 What new information was most meaningful to you after completing these

 Could this new information have changed a situation you experienced in the past?
How would this situation have changed?

 How can this new information change your perceptions, interpretations,
judgments, reactions and/or behaviors in the future?

I do not want my house to be walled in
on all sides or my windows to be
stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands
to be blown about my house as freely as
possible. But I refuse to be blown off
my feet by any.
Mahatma Gandhi


A sense of disconnection or detachment from a primary cultural group. Cultural Disengagement
is not an orientation on the Intercultural Development Continuum, as it does not relate to
intercultural competence. However, consideration of a Cultural Disengagement score that is “not
resolved” suggests some lack of involvement in a primary cultural community.


Cultural Disengagement when resolved means that you feel involved and connected to your
cultural community. This can provide a sense of attachment towards a group important to you.

Developmental Opportunity

Cultural Disengagement when it is not fully resolved may be experienced as a feeling of
separation from a cultural community that is (or was) important to you. You may want to
consider how to become more fully engaged within a cultural community important to you.

Suggestions for Cultural Disengagement:

Revi ew the suggesti ons bel ow ONLY i f your I ndi vi dual I DI Profi l e
i ndi cates you are not resol ved on Cul tural Di sengagement. I f your
I DI profi l e i ndi cates resol ved, then thi s secti on does not need to
be compl eted.

If you are not resolved in Cultural Disengagement:

! Identify the ways you feel disconnected from your primary cultural group. For
example, is this sense of alienation more political, more social, or something else?

! Reflect on why you perceive yourself as disconnected from your cultural group?

! Do you want to do anything about this sense of detachment? Do you want to re-
establish deeper connections with people from your primary community?

! Are you in search of a “blended” sense of cultural connection between two
different cultural groups?

! If so, what does this mean in terms of your involvement and sense of connection
to these different cultural communities?


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