This is the story of why I started TICL and how TICL users benefit from it. So if you’re in a reading mood stay with me, make yourself comfortable and let me show you around! Or see my short bio first. 😊
TICL was born at the intersection of
what feels like the most meaningful and
rewarding work to me – helping others learn
and grow – and what I have become the most competent in, through the years, which is organized human relationships across diverse cultures and inclusive leadership.
The purpose of TICL is to support people in and outside organizations in becoming better includers, better communicators, better team members and leaders, in terms of both the engagement they feel doing their work and the performance they deliver.
Obviously, when people improve how they feel and operate, they make their company or group accomplish more of all the things we expect from organizations, like improving their environment, creating value for *every* stakeholder, ultimately making humanity grow.
Having grown up in an environment where human interactions were fairly complicated, I’ve always felt a drive to understanding
being human and being social.
Educated into an early, avid learner I soon developed a curiosity and a craving for complex, articulated knowledge.
I still have that craving with me whatever I approach. I want to connect dots and uncover patterns, especially where one wouldn’t necessarily search for them and I’ve always been ready to take the leap for that. It makes me feel valuable and useful!
The dots TICL connects for clients – the *problems* TICL helps them address – are actually disparate.
It could be a safety policy employees don’t comply with. Or it’s a new VP who struggles with getting their managing team up to speed in executing the strategy. Elsewhere it could be a global ERP rollout getting postponed for the third time.
Not what you would typically hire a diversity trainer for, right? But stay with me. 🤨
All right, let’s take it from the other end. The *solutions* TICL implements always involve some combination of intercultural competence, inclusive teamwork and leadership, bias mitigation and DIB (diversity, inclusion & belonging).
But what have inclusion and culture training to do with safety policy?
Well – that’s the largely untapped power of Intercultural Competence and Inclusion at play. Let’s call them ICI, for simplicity.
ICI reach across corporate structures, proofread existing business codes and practices, redesign them where needed, and mitigate or cure situations – like, say, safety policy compliance – that go above and beyond offering teams a nice event, raising awareness for diversity or improving camaraderie in global teams. Which is still what most companies expect when they hire an ICI trainer.
ICI are solid, far-reaching solutions that empower people and help them connect their abilities with the problems at stake so they can tackle them. You would be surprised how often corporate structures and unwritten behavioral codes keep people with capabilities separate from the problems they could solve!
ICI create a conducive environment and change how people feel and behave within a group or team. And when people evolve as a group, anything becomes possible. So you never know what specific operational problems an inclusion learning experience can help you tackle, by connecting the right dots, and in so doing, shaping the most favorable environment for people to thrive and function at the best of their capabilities.
Intercultural Competence and Inclusion are solid, far-reaching solutions that empower people and help them connect their abilities with the problems at stake, so they can tackle them.
Today more and more leading business thinkers and practitioners advocate for the importance of cultivating human capabilities – such as empathy, courage, curiosity and more – and individual strengths over technical skills, as generators of business performance.
Thankfully, we’re becoming more and more aware of these connections. Now – we can and should follow these threads farther ahead.
ICI give us a powerful and sure way to develop human capabilities and thereby, business performance.
Today, though, it’s still common practice to consider these tools either from an HR-only perspective, or as feel-good, one-shot interventions. Not that they don’t have huge HR significance; they do, and they do make us feel valued and empowered.
But let’s not stop halfway. Instead, let’s connect the dots all the way through. We want to unleash the power of intercultural competence and inclusion, so let’s treat them as the business performance enhancers they are, and reap the huge benefits attached.
It is so worth it, especially now that, even post 2020 crisis, not every organization is doing it yet. Think competitive advantage!
TICL’s vision: in the perfect TICL world – diverse people interact in ways that make everyone feel their best and contribute their best, so the organizations they belong to perform and serve society at their best.
I first fell into these disciplines – all things intercultural – as a student of social sciences and international economics.
The state of the art back then was obviously different. It was embryonic. Since then, the ICI tools have impressively evolved into the robust body of knowledge our global, complex organizations require and need today. We live in exciting times!
So yes, I studied economics – arguably the most large-spectrum human science – where the keyword to me was human and the hidden keyword was multi-discipline, just so I could go on embracing complexity and exploring more uncharted territories before hunting a job and ‘restricting my horizon’.
Like, why on earth would you settle for a 1000-piece puzzle when the bookshop sells a 5000? Exactly my line of thinking when, as a teenager on summer vacation, I talked my mom and siblings into investing a good portion of our leisure budget in just that, instead of ice creams and merry-go-round rides. A five-thousand-piece-jigsaw-puzzle 😱 I’m actually not even sure it was not 7000… we should ask them!
And we were working on it every evening in a sort of ‘puzzle trance’ (well, me for sure) on the living-room floor of our rental vacation apartment. C, E and F: my late apologies to you! 😅
Back to intercultural competence and inclusion, you might wonder what it is exactly that ICI do for a company, team or individual.
How does it work? It actually depends. Let’s look at two cases.
Case One – Overall, you – your team, your project, your company – are doing fairly well. If someone asked you ‘Do you have any diversity problems?’ you would reply ‘Not really’. Ok, could ICI training bring you any value in this case?
The answer is a confident YES. ICI training is the-most-effective-approach to leveraging the diversity you already have in-house.
The asset you didn’t know you had. The asset you thought was a liability. The asset you didn’t realize could elevate your business performance to the next level.
Don’t only think nationality, ethnicity, age or gender here. Diversity could be, say, thinking style diversity that you are not using. Your people could be sitting there, on a wealth of diverse thinking and problem solving styles, without being enabled to express them. Unfortunately, it’s all too common that people are depressed and disengaged because they feel their abilities and strengths are not used in their workplace.
That’s how some companies, talent-wise, shoot themselves in the foot and actually push their high performers and potentials out of the door way more quickly than it would naturally happen. Because they are diverse, but they are not that inclusive – not even inclusive of diverse solving problem styles – so the best talents suffer in frustration until they quit. Plus, the next best talents sense it and remove them altogether from their list of potential employers, projects, partners, etcetera. Annoying, isn’t it?
Just because you’re doing fine it doesn’t mean you can afford deprioritizing diversity, inclusion and culture, unless you want to buy yourself a ticket for mediocrity, at best. We should extract workplace well-being and operational performance out of that diversity, instead of leaving the asset dormant and the potential untapped.
Bringing ICI into the equation is *the* way to bridge the gap between diversity and inclusion because, as we often learn the hard way, diversity without inclusion is like a very unstable raw material that could explode in our hands anytime and create damage. So. In case two, that damage is happening.
Case Two – You – your diverse team, project, or company – are struggling. Could ICI lend you a helping hand? The answer is: YES!
When we are facing urgent, dramatic challenges, it’s even more crucial to not miss out on ICI. We have to let ICI enable us to process and transform conflict.
At an inclusive teamwork workshop I’ve recently delivered for a manufacturing company, the global IT function was facing an urgent and dramatic diversity challenge. Three months ahead of an ERP rollout, they were feeling like at the edge of a scary cliff. And so they were behaving, also.
The ones who hadn’t quit were suffering, stuck in their silos, locked in their habits, struggling to somehow resume good communication across distributed and culturally opposite teams. ‘For some reasons’ they had ended up being unable to have constructive conversations, let alone bringing the project forward effectively.
That’s when ICI can get a team unstuck, offering them an opening into a previously overlooked direction. Nine times out of ten, it’s not about budget, and it’s not about processes either. It’s about mindset, communication, and teamwork, and leadership.
We often learn the hard way that diversity without inclusion is like a very unstable raw material that could explode in our hands anytime.
Photo credit: Maria Petit
But why are many companies still not proactive with intercultural competence and inclusion training?
Well, when we can’t see how far ICI can bring us, we won’t spontaneously reach out to it, no matter how badly we are struggling.
To put it in marketing vocabulary, not every organization is well underway on their customer journey for ICI.
Some are clearly aware how they would benefit from them while others desperately need such tools, however, they’re caught in different mechanisms like, say, sub-optimal, siloed decision-making.
Isn’t it ironic? Sometimes organizations lack an inclusive decision-making process, which blocks them from making the decision to go use inclusion and finally address their challenges! ICI are just not on their radar so they go for the wrong toolbox and get often caught in a dangerous, vicious circle that could ultimately put them out of business. 😬
If we think about it, it’s so understandable. When something goes wrong on a team or project, there are many possible reasons involved, at so many levels, isn’t it? Resources, processes, strategies, partners, market…
Realizing that ICI could help is surely not the most straightforward thing. Sometimes companies ‘bump into’ diversity training ‘by accident’ and so realize some unexpected benefits. Sometimes HR has a budget to use up or someone wants to offer the teams a nice event.
Now that the 2020 crisis has struck, the mindset is thankfully changing. Companies are going from ‘Ok, I guess we’re supposed to do some diversity works, let’s do something‘ to ‘We want to be bolder now, we want to own our diversity questions and fight unfairness in our workplace‘ which is exhilarating to see.
Hopefully we will soon extend it to: ‘Let’s cultivate our most high-yield asset – diversity – to drive growth, engagement and success‘, because being proactive with diversity is not only for doing good, but also for performing well.
TICL works to raise more awareness about the intercultural competence and inclusion superpowers, aka the business case for diversity.
One reason I’m mindful of these corporate dynamics is my 18 years spent working in companies.
Freshly graduated in economic & social sciences, I was hungry for international experience so I traded my hometown Milano, for Paris in my 20s, working as an export credit risk account manager. Later I moved on, both geographically and job-wise, to take on a business unit director role in banking, in my 30s.
Little did I know back then that on this international, uphill path I was gathering countless useful pieces for my TICL mission to come, like when you tackle a big, super complex puzzle, if you ask me. That smorgasbord of experiences, encounters, research and insights would eventually become sort of an experiential intercultural inventory for TICL.
What I did know though was, those ‘good jobs’ weren’t really making me feel fulfilled.
Not enough people focus, not enough variety, not enough novelty… yet honestly there were a fair amount of all these features. But the meaning was lacking. That was my main pain point. So, as I was turning 40, determined to try something out and combat that thin layer of frustration, I resigned from my director role and embarked on yet another cultural exploration.
I moved to Scandinavia, which is where I am still based as I’m telling you this story. Here in Sweden, where I’ve been working and living ever since, I got a chance to experience the excitement and the hurdles of cultural exploration again. 😄
I started by getting hired, to gain some first-hand experience of the Swedish workplace; revamped my academic background; then started TICL! 🤩
Years in Corporate
Years in Sweden
Years in the ICI* Industry
Years outside Home Country
*Intercultural Competence and Inclusion
And there you have it! 🙂
With TICL, every piece of a picture where diversity’s been the main consistency, started falling into place.
I know you know what I’m getting at. 😄
Being totally obsessed – yes, it’s a buzzword, but that’s what I am: obsessed – with puzzles, I see a puzzle not just as that slightly awkward leisure activity, but also as quite an appropriate metaphor for life – specifically, for worklife.
In a puzzle, just as in many career paths, there’s complexity, there’s trial and error, there’s even A-B testing (yes!), there is climax, and there is often a turning point. To me, TICL has been that turning point.
The point after which you seriously start assembling, slowly but surely progressing towards your finished picture, with a growing sense of consistently serving a useful, meaningful purpose.
A purpose that can be worth a life of work.
- Explore how to address and treat the engagement and performance challenges of your diverse workplace – individually or as a team – by using the power of Intercultural Competence and Inclusion.
- The Intercultural Lab offers a choice of in-person and remote custom learning experiences that unlock well-being, engagement, growth, results.
- Every topic can be facilitated in different formats and lengths: workshop, workshop series, individual training, lecture, presentation. Every topic is tailored around your specific focus points and challenges.
Swedish and Scandinavian Workplace Culture
Learn and practice how to grasp the unique workplace mindset and habits of the Scandinavian culture and integrate it successfully.
Inclusive Habits in Leadership and Teamwork
Build up inclusive habits in both mindset and behaviors, so you can reap the benefits of your workplace diversity.
You have it, so leverage it!
Conflict Resolution in Diverse Organizations
Let’s remove the blockages that keep people stuck and revive the natural willingness to collaborate across differences!
Bias Mitigation for HR teams and processes
Because the human brain is naturally biased, un-biasing our thinking patterns takes conscious effort. Let’s do it!
Remote Leadership and Teamwork + WFH
Remoteness is an asset, not a hassle. After 2020, it’s more relevant than ever. Not your experience? Let’s look at the user manual!
Leading and Working in Sweden as a Foreign Professional
When you need to act quickly and want support in making sense of your workplace dynamics in Sweden, we can take it as an individual training or conversation.
Integrating and Job Searching in Sweden as a Newcomer
Newly arrived in Sweden as an accompanying spouse or as a job seeker, you are facing specific challenges that span from decoding attitudes, to action planning.
How to Thrive across Cultures as an International Student
A series originally developed for the international master students at Halmstad University that can be beneficial and tailor-made to students of any disciplines.
Intercultural Networking and Collaboration for Students & Researchers
How to maximize the benefits of brainstorming, problem solving and networking across different cultures and styles in an academic or research environment.
Intercultural Negotiation in Everyday Life
A session originally developed for the master students of International Law at Lund University that can be beneficial and tailor-made to students of any disciplines.
They say about TICL
“Federica delivered a great intercultural course which was really valuable in helping me to understand the culture and work environment in Sweden at the start of my first overseas work assignment.
By sharing her personal and professional experiences, Federica created an environment where we could fully explore the topics.
The course was well researched and tailored to my specific questions. Federica was able to run an interactive, engaging series of sessions online to ensure the training was a success despite the current travel restrictions.”
“I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with Federica as she with inspiration and insight has given lectures and workshops for our international master’s students. […] Federica’s intercultural competence has been a perfect fit as she shares, among other things, aspects that are important to understand and learn about the Swedish labor market and workplace.“
“Very good training on multicultural teamwork!
It was so interesting to realize our working habits and our reactions per nationality.
Take the time for this training, it will bring a lot of value to the project at stake and to the organization.
India, France, US, Poland, Sweden, Brazil and Italy, all in the same room!”
“Working in a multi-cultural environment with a remote team in Istanbul and Shenzhen and five nationalities in the team, I was looking for someone who could help us understand the power of multi-culture. […] Federica immediately understood my need and created a tailor-made 1-day workshop. She used interactive tools and it took only a couple of minutes to start up discussions, sharing experiences and opinions within the Team. […]“
Read on LinkedIn
– It was an amazing event, very creative, inspiring and useful. It was impressive to be in a 3-hour webinar without getting bored at all!
– Information was presented very clearly and all hit the target. Thanks a lot for 3 beneficial hours! I’d like to take upcoming events with pleasure.
– Very happy to have Federica back discussing Swedish culture and networking in general!
– More events with this Federica!
“I am very satisfied with the 1-day ‘Living and working in Sweden’ program delivered by Federica. I particularly appreciated her professionalism, the customization of the program, the level of interactivity and her ability to discuss specific topics and situations relevant to me.
What I enjoyed the most was Federica’s relaxed teaching and ability to chat openly.
I learned a lot, thank you!
Ask me the anonymized evaluation report.
“Federica gave a much-appreciated lecture for our Swedish for Entrepreneurs students at Folkuniversitet in Malmö. She dealt with topics related to Swedish workplace culture such as leadership, communication, cooperation and equality. […] Knowledge is power and Federica’s lecture definitely contributed to increased knowledge about Swedish culture among our students. We look forward to inviting her again next semester!
Ok, bottom line! 😊
Thank you for your curiosity! 🙏
If you’ve made it this far, it’s clear that inclusion means something to you.
Shall we deep dive into some more content? Absolutely, there’s more to take advantage of here on the site, and make sure to email me any questions or thoughts.
Ready to Start Leveraging Diversity?