Overview of how the simulation portion of the Professional Version of BaFa' BaFa' works.

If you are an external consultant or interested in re-selling this program please email or call us at 858 450-3400 for more details.

The Professional Version of BaFa' BaFa' has been used thousands of times by organizations of all shapes and sizes to create awareness and move to action. Visit our Professional Version of BaFa' BaFa' information page to learn more.

At the beginning of the experience, two simulated cultures are created: an Alpha culture and a Beta culture. Alphans are relaxed, put great emphasis on group membership, and value personal contact and intimacy within a hierarchical status structure. Betans measure a person’s value by how well he or she performs in the marketplace.

The two cultures contain elements of many different cultures. The intent is to help people understand the impact of culture per se rather than the impact of a specific culture (one advantage of this approach is that it does not stereotype people from different cultures as many cultural specific programs do).

The director briefs the participants on the general purposes of the simulation and then assigns them membership in either the Alpha or Beta culture. Each group moves into its own area where members are taught the values, expectations and customs of their new culture.

Once all of the members understand and feel comfortable with their new culture, each culture sends an observer to the other for a brief period of time. The observers attempt to learn as much as possible about the values, norms and customs of the other culture without directly asking questions. Then, each observer returns to his or her respective culture and reports on what he or she observed. Based on the report of the observer, each group develops hypotheses about the most effective way to interact with the other culture.

After the hypotheses have been formulated, the participants take turns visiting the other culture in small groups. After each visit, the visitors return home and report on what they learned from their visit. The group uses the data to test and improve their hypotheses. When everyone has had a chance to visit the other culture, the simulation portion ends. The participants then come together in one group to discuss and analyze the experience.

Overview of the discussion and analysis of the Professional Version of BaFa' BaFa':

In the simulation portion of BaFa’ BaFa’, we create a problem for all of the participants. We require them to live and interact in another culture. We then ask them how they felt when they were in the foreign culture. They generally report feeling lost, overwhelmed, invisible etc. We then ask what strategies they adopted to cope with those feelings; they report such behaviors as trying to escape, discounting the other culture, dropping out psychologically, insulting them, etc.

At this point in the process, we explain that in the simulation we were starting the process of developing traditions for the Alpha and Beta cultures. In other words, their strategies for coping will soon become ways that the people from their culture will use to interact with people from different cultures. If we were to focus on these cultural differences, it would make it more difficult to relate to other cultures. However, if we were to focus on how these cultural traditions developed, i.e., people in our culture were trying to learn how to feel welcome, competent, and valued when interacting with another culture, we then draw closer together.

The next step is to teach them non-defensive ways of asking about cultural practices and the problems those practices were designed to solve.

We then discuss the assumptions of the diversity challenge. We draw a venn diagram as below and present the assumptions of the diagram.


  • Everyone is bi-cultural or multi-cultural. Each employee belongs to the culture of his or her birth and heritage and also is a member of the corporate work culture.
  • The culture a person inherits from his or her home i.e., culture A, B, or C, cannot be changed or modified by the work culture.
  • The bringing together of people from diverse cultures into a work culture can create major benefits for the individual and the corporation. The challenge for the people within the corporation is to shape the vision, values, and practices of the work culture in a way that produces these benefits.

We then teach them a technique for weighing the different approaches against the values of their own culture and identifying those practices that are not compatible with the corporate culture, those that are neutral, and those that support and encourage the organization’s values.

The final step is to identify ways of reinforcing and encouraging those cultural practices that are different that also support the organization’s values.

Organizations big and small use BaFa’ BaFa’ to reinforce the positive aspects of cultural diversity, to prepare employees for overseas assignments, to build sensitivity towards cultural differences within the work place, to introduce corporate culture to new employees, to help employees adjust during mergers or right sizing, discuss conflict management, or to encourage discussion between groups that have never worked together before. Contact us to learn more about the Professional Version of BaFa’ BaFa’ or call us at 858 450-3400.