I recently enjoyed a holiday to Vietnam and India. Whilst relaxing up the Mekong I was reflecting on a conversation with our friends Pat Dade and Les Higgins from Cultural Dynamics. Pat and Les (who have been running the British Values Survey since the 1970s) have recently been exploring the values of developing countries including India and China (and Vietnam has embraced China’s growth model).
One of the striking characteristics of both India and China is the rapid rise in the proportion of the population who are outer-directed or ‘Prospectors’ in terms of their values. Their populations are young and overwhelmingly in this values space. This has many up-sides, as Prospectors are driven and impatient to succeed. They are great assets in the quest for growth (any organisation that lacks them will struggle).
There are also some downsides – at least in the eyes of inner-directed ‘Pioneers’ like me. As such I consider the purpose of learning to be self-discovery and self-improvement. That’s not quite how they see it in Ho Chi Minh City. The English School where my daughter has been teaching uses the slogan “Where the best become better”. Appealing directly to a Prospector audience. It’s all about being the best – and then getting better still. And it’s about beating the others – never mind those of us that always found ourselves in the remedial class for languages.
In India on the next leg of our holiday (bizarrely we shared our flight with fifty orange clad Buddhist monks who we later saw on the TV dancing at the 20/20 cricket in Bangladesh) we bought a local mobile phone.
My pioneer sensibilities were again offended by the section in the manual on ‘how to make a Fake Call’. Of course the idea is not new and even the most self-righteous Pioneer may have contemplated using such a tactic. Indeed the Daily Mail thought an app called ‘Tickle’ worthy of an article.
But reading the Fake Call section in the official manual of the phone (in fact immediately after how to switch it on and make a genuine call) takes things to another level. There is an official ‘fake call’ function on Samsung’s Indian mobile phones.
Two relatively trivial examples of the ‘values gap’ that can occur. But although trivial they give an indication of the care we must take to understand that people we may want to connect with may see the world in a very different way to the way we see it. Businesses, campaigning organisations, government at all levels and political parties need to become sensitised to the approach. And as the world moves East it is the prospectors who we probably need to understand first.
David Evans is the Director of The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.