One of the best features of Cultural Detective™ is its versatility: the incidents can be presented in many different ways to match the communication styles of both facilitators and participants. When facilitators are willing to take some risks and get creative, amazing things can happen!
Gilles Asselin, Rita Wuebbeler and Ruth Mastron (CD France and Germany) had the chance to break new ground during a recent training program in Virginia for about eighty top managers from France, Germany and the US. To introduce the Cultural Detective™, they decided to turn the meeting room into a theatre. A few simple props and costumes brought from home or borrowed from the hotel turned the trio into a German detective, a French waiter and an American tourist in Paris (see photos below).
The "script" was actually a brand-new incident developed by Natalie Lutz for the 2009 update to CD France, and is based on an interview for her Master's thesis in Intercultural Communication from the University of Maryland. She was awarded second place at the UM Graduate Research Conference for her work analyzing French and American perceptions of arrogance in the other.
To set the restaurant décor, we included a photo in the PowerPoint presentation that became the set when projected onto the large screen behind the stage. Magnifying glass in hand, Rita came on in a trenchcoat and fedora to examine the "scene of the crime" while music from a classic German TV detective show played. Then she stepped back to take notes while Gilles (in a borrowed waiter's vest, jacket and apron) set up a table and chairs to background noise of cutlery, plates and conversation. Finally, Ruth--wearing a baseball cap--walked into the busy "restaurant" for lunch, and the intercultural misunderstandings began.
Participants were highly engaged with this lively presentation, and the skit provoked thoughtful discussion of the issues at hand.