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IAIA: Intercultural Advantage

A Cross Cultural Perceptive on *Everything You Need to Know About Working with Israel



The IAIA Story

“IAIA Consulting was founded to answer a need,” Says founder and principal Anat Kedem An Israeli living in Silicon Valley, Anat won a front seat in the drama of cross-cultural interactions, witnessing a fascinating recurring dynamic: organizations and companies, Israelis and Americans, joined forces moved by their mutually good intentions and respective expertise to build something truly great and new. Combining the innovative, outside-the-box thinking and technical aptitude typical of Israelis, with the methodological approach, organizational ability and market savoir-faire of the Americans, indeed seemed extremely promising. And yet, as irony would have it, the qualities and cultural strengths seemingly accountable for each side’s brilliance (the very qualities that compelled the parties to join forces in the first place) soon started in getting in the way

No matter how promising a plan seemed on paper, how skillful management was, how easily executives adapted to change – or how badly everybody wanted to succeed – came the implementation phase, and those in charge of the actual, hands-on interaction with the ‘other culture’, would begin noticing cracks in the foundation. Seemingly small misunderstandings would soon ignite into fiery debates; hostile disagreements about direction, conflicts regarding the proper way to carry out tasks and arguments about roles and responsibilities began to derail the process. The energy soon became toxic, infecting everyone directly and indirectly involved, resulting in lack of trust, disintegration of relationships and wasted business opportunities – all of which, needless to say, impacts productivity and damages the ability to attain business goals.

Towards A Solution

What became crystal clear to Anat, a Qualified Mediator with a broad repertoire of cross-cultural skills and a decade-long first-hand experience living and working across the U.S.-Israel interface, was that the difficulties repeatedly encountered by cross-cultural teams and organizations were not only deeply rooted in cultural gaps, but typically made worse by the widespread assumption that Americans and Israelis are culturally very similar. A presumption that forever caused each party to overlook the fundamental differences ingrained in the cultural norms, values and codes that drive the mindset and behavior of ‘the other’, resulting, not surprisingly, in mutual frustration and animosity.

Increasingly convinced that the solution to the problems was hidden precisely in the blind spot that continuously caused it, Anat resolved to mediate between the sides boxed in (what she perceived to be) an altogether preventable battle. Using an holistic organizational approach and building on the basic psychological premise that a deeper understanding of the modus operandi of ‘the other’ will transform the perceptions, feelings and behaviors of those previously puzzled and frustrated by it – in 2006, Anat co-founded the Cross-Cultural Consulting firm IAIACommitted to enable Americans working with Israel and Israelis working with Americans to work effectively together, IAIA has since designed and facilitated numerous programs and workshops tailored to bridge the cultural gaps inherent in U.S.-Israel interfaced interactions for organizations, teams, management and executives, to build effective cross cultural communication skills and support their overall operational success.

As years of experience across a wide spectrum of business relationships with Israel revealed a broader necessity to explain Israeli culture – a culture that has ‘maximum freedom, minimum restraint’ as a core value – to the world at large, IAIA evolved beyond its core focus, extending its Consultancy, Coaching Facilitation and Training expertise to all other cross-cultural interfaces involving Israel. With a wealth of experience working with 500 Fortune Companies and start-ups, top management and a geographically dispersed workforce alike, across multiple sectors around the globe, IAIA continues to design and facilitate programs to help organizations worldwide build their cross-cultural intelligence and competence to bridge cultural gaps and achieve – if not surpass – their respective goals.

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Cultural diversity can sabotage success if discounted / can be turned into strength if correctly managed