3D Culture: A multidimensional approach to better storytelling.

How 3D Culture Works

Three-dimensional experiences can be traced to the early 1900s, experimenting with 3D-filmmaking. Around the same time, the concept of “Culture” as we know now, started to shape up. Both disciplines were trying to create a vivid representation of an object, a situation or a behaviour in order to understand it. Scientists use mathematics or physics, while anthropologists use  social concepts. More than a 100 years passed already and we still trying to figure things out.

Virtual reality, 3D experiences and three-dimensional selfies are part of the normal, so it’s organic to think about culture in a three-dimensional way, or what I like to call, 3D Culture. Borrowing from concepts from 3D modeling, we could say that its possible to create a model of an object (situation/moment). We should be talking about a “multiverse” approach, but lets move in little steps. I worked plenty with 3D artists, experience designers and collaborated with researchers and analyst on multicultural projects, so inadvertently I became a 3D Cultural Analyst, rendering situations into models, creating a mental sculpture to have a 360 understanding. We model culture using our own algorithms (thoughts and perceptions) shape and texture our objects (experiences) and look at it from many angles (situations). Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense, keep reading, we are almost there.

Our brain is an organic 3D living scanner, we collect information and data from many sources. We model situations, ideas, actions and behaviours based on new input and within our own archives and mental 3D library of emotions, thoughts, memories, sounds, smells and flavors. We give this objects meaning through texture mapping and create high poly experiences. The result is a beautiful, amazing 3D model of who we are and how we see the world. All in real-time.

This mentally interactive, three-dimensional cultural model reflects and shapes our story and how we behave, on a daily basis. Our ideas, thoughts and beliefs, even the music we listen, the food we like or the books we read are part of our 3D cultural model, shaping our identity and framework to our ‘why we do things the way we do’. And it’s passed down from one generation to the next one.

Culture is wide and filled with many layers, and naturally we tend to simplify things pre-modeled objects, royalty free-ideas of what something means. Words come with a significant amount of conceptual baggage. For example, think of the word “Argentina”. Did your mind conjured images of tango, gauchos and delicious steak?…and what about California…Hollywood and golden beaches? or India (colorful dances, spicy food and Ganesha). Or in reverse, the words ‘fiesta’, ‘nachos’ and ‘5 de mayo’ in a single phrase invoques the idea of Mexico. So wrong on many levels. The reality is that words convey powerful notions of “Argentinean” or “Indian” qualities. How people dress and eat is just part of it, and really a very small indicator of all the symbols, traits, diversity and depth that each amazing and unique culture. Also, culture exists beyond its ‘Wikipedia’ country description. Office buildings, universities, shopping markets, public transportation, coffee shops, anywhere people interact and share the same language, slang, interests and values creates culture: a subculture. They can be united by a music style, a game or a concept, food or sports, uniting complete strangers from around the globed, with opposite cultural into a single hearted vision.

Spoiler Alert!  you can’t design for everyone.

But we can focus on a subculture and inspire culture from the inside-out, enabling ambassadors. This shift build space for growth, mixing innovation and design with relevant insights into the deeper layers of cultural behavior. Its an opportunity reinvent and a vibrant playground for talent to make better products and services.

 

People are people no matter which country you are, and you’ll find interests and tastes as diverse as their inhabitants. From gender identification, tradition, decision-making process and concepts of self. We could try to isolate subcultures using this parameters. Spoiler Alert!  you can’t design for a whole culture. Appealing to everyone is a waist of resources and time. What we can is to focus on a subculture, inspiring culture from the inside-out as ambassadors. Become and real influencer. A 3D cultural approach allows us to take a fresh look into situations from various directions and views -like a 3D camera moving around a virtual scenario-. so we can identify opportunities and challenges and had a quick understanding without investing much time. 

Subcultures thrive within culture and sharing similar values, beliefs or behaviors, but “updated” to reflect their current life experience. Happens a lot with expats for example, were we adapt our ‘mother-culture’ re-significating to continue cultural survival and cultural evolution. “Tex-Mex”, “Chinese-American” “Techno-Jazz” “Newyorican” are everyday simple examples. You can be Argentinian, speak spanish at home, polish with friends, and english at work Italian father and Argentine mother, raised in Buenos Aires, lived in the US half your life and living in Poland. That’s my crazy 3D cultural model.

3D cultural models are a multi-method approach using traditional tools, ethnographic observation, media investigation, data research, social behaviours and sub-cultural pointers to create a playground to analyse key and relevant findings. highlighted by cultural heritage, geographic momentum and social influences to generate a valuable framework to capitalise cultural-data opening new avenues for further research under the cultural-technological evolution umbrella. 3D cultural modelling gives flexibility to change angles quicker without re-formulating the scene, can easily help us calculate effects and behaviours, and get a subculture estimate with a 360 experience perception. This is not overriding classic techniques but a supportive framework to play with those variables, a view of the world through multiple lenses, from the individual to the collective, creating a storytelling that empowers, encourages and represents people transcending time, culture and language, and finally understanding that diversity is the one true thing we have in common.


Creating a team identity.

Creating a team identity beyond language.

Audiences and markets have become globalized and teams have grown to an amazing ecosystem of culturally diverse talents, inspiring brands across the globe with unlimited growth opportunity and fresh perspectives. We have offshore teams with copywriters and designers in London, development & QC in Buenos Aires, software engineers in Chennai and marketing teams in NYC. Maybe your campus in Prague has members from different nationalities.

Inspiring and managing teams is a wonderful challenge, and with team members from different countries and different cultural backgrounds and languages, it requires also a fresh and diverse perspective as their teams itself. Wherever your team is in one office or globally dispersed, they are expected to deliver their best performance, creativity, and unique point of view into the game. So, how do we leverage, support and inspire such a diverse workforce?

Language and cultural differences.

One of the key components of every collaborative relationship is trust, and open communication among team members is key. Language proficiency is a challenge and can undermine trust between its members. Colleagues with different levels of proficiency could be perceived as less communicative or reliable, undermining healthy trust-building in each other’s abilities and skills. It is crucial to find ways to transform these differences, into creative energy. It’s important to explore those differences so we know how to interact and grow as a group.

A way to encourage this understanding of diversity is to create unstructured moments, not necessarily 'a meeting'- where everyone can share their cultural background and expectations about communication and working style. The team gets to learn more about each other by listening, sharing and asking questions and sharing about their backgrounds, even to learn what kind of food they like, or learn a traditional recipe from your home. It's amazing when teams discover that we are not that different after all.

Teams experience a lot of pressure, and members of multi-language teams frequently relieve stress by switching into their native tongue, inadvertently excluding other teammates from their conversations. We need to reverse language barriers and communication anxiety by encouraging open dialogue in teams as a whole, creating a "team identity" equipped with amazing different strengths and unique backgrounds, united in one vision. Like a team of superheroes.

Reducing language gap

The success and strength of every multi-national team reside in one basic -but rather complex- aspect: communicationHow can you measure the degree of language connection among team members? When people come from similar nationalities, the level of 'language distance' is usually low. Even if they come from different backgrounds, people can interact formally and informally, align, and build trust. They arrive at a common understanding of what certain behaviors mean, and they feel close and congenial, which fosters good teamwork.

Coworkers who are geographically separated, or come from different countries and cultures, could experience some kind of language anxiety that could prevent interactions. This originates from the inability to communicate, missing information and/or negative evaluation. This negative dynamics reduce team performance, and especially for creatives, artist, and designers, where creative energy, collaborative expression, and multi-team interaction is vital.

Creating a team identity

In a team, is important that everyone gets enough speaking time, and that everyone knows what they’re working toward. What’s our vision and why we are doing what we do. Bringing everyone around common goals and a unified vision is key. I can not stress this more! as evident it may seem, this is poorly done, and team members spot it quickly when is fake. Is has to be an honest take, not a speech. That's why you need to know the brand, the clients, the team, the story. You need to be the first one to believe it to be able to inspire it. Highlighting the importance of each diverse skill in your team will level up the group dynamics, and also how much value the team is contributing to the success of the service, product or brand. Be open about the unique appreciation for everyone’s input and encourage meta-communication. Each particular story amounts to create a more solid, trustworthy and collaborative team.

Bringing everyone around a unified vision is key. Its has to be an honest take, not a speech. That's why you need to know the brand, the clients, the team, the story. You need to be the first one to believe it to be able to inspire it.

Break down your common goal into actionable steps and outline each individual’s role and responsibilities. This reduces the chance of misunderstandings and lets everyone know that their contribution matters. Clarity of each team member’s contribution also makes it easier to address team performance as a whole. It sets expectations for what needs to be done, by who and when.

Building a team identity also entails finding common things between team members. Make space in your working day to promote team interactions, to get to appreciate each other team members. Perhaps there are teammates who share the same taste in movies, music or TV shows. Some may bond over hobbies or share information about their families, etc. Personal connections within the team make it easier to work together, trust and have a solid team identity.

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To be continued…