Building Intercultural Fluency: Inside the IDI Effort 

In February 2022, Northspan’s Welcoming Community program began offering the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) for free to qualifying individuals and organizations in seven counties across northeast Minnesota. As of November 2023, we have nearly met our goal of administering 80 assessments, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive based on follow-up surveys of participants.  

Here’s what several participants have shared:  

I was skeptical of the assessment—but wow. It really brought me a greater understanding of where I should take a deeper look at myself. 

I have done a lot of equity, diversity and inclusion work. I am always looking for ways to examine myself and keep growing in my work. I appreciated that talking to someone helps expose areas that have become blind spots. 

We really appreciated that it was free! We likely wouldn’t have done it otherwise and it is now something we want to provide for others in our org. 

What Is the Intercultural Development Inventory? 

The IDI is a 50-item online inventory that is followed by a confidential, one-on-one debrief by a certified IDI administrator. Northspan’s Welcoming Community program contracted with Kevin Skwira-Brown from Cultural Fluency Associates LLP to coordinate the assessment and provide the individual debrief. 

Anyone interested in increasing their intercultural fluency can take the IDI. According to, over a million individuals worldwide have taken the IDI to improve their intercultural competence, and over 4,000 organizations and educational institutions actively use the IDI.  

The IDI can be applied in a variety of ways, but common approaches include:

  • Assessing the unique communication styles of individuals
  • Identifying communication strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement
  • Sharing conflict resolution insights and best practices 

The IDI process allows us to become more conscious—both personally and collectively—of how we engage in group settings and navigate instances of cultural similarity and difference. 

Learn More: The Intercultural Development Inventory 

Administering IDI Across Northern Minnesota 

Recognizing that diversity exists and will continue to grow in our communities, Northspan identified IDI as a way to transform leadership practices in the Northland and foster a more generous, inclusive, and engaged environment that helps eliminate opportunity gaps.

In order to spread the impact over as broad a range of groups as possible in the region, we selected a scope of 80 free IDI assessments total and limited availability to one or two individuals per organization.

Initial email outreach to organizations in the region included a Constant Contact campaign which we updated and resent three times. In response to email outreach as well as person-to-person networking and word of mouth, we received 105 applications.  

Of the 88 total applications approved, 69 went on to complete the 50-question online assessment and 70-minute individual debrief with Kevin. The remaining 19 are either in progress or did not complete the full process. The unapproved applications were from outside the area, or from organizations with more than two individuals who wanted to participate.

Results, Response, and Plans for the Future 

We sent a feedback survey to participants who completed the IDI with us. It asked questions like “How valuable did you find the Intercultural Development Inventory assessment and individual debrief?”  

  • 55% of respondents indicated that the IDI assessment and debrief were extremely valuable.
  • 87% of respondents indicated that the IDI changed their understanding of how they viewed their own intercultural development.
  • 97% of respondents selected either 4 or 5 out of 5 in rating how valuable they found the IDI assessment and debrief. 

Takeaways from the IDI process were applicable to individuals and groups in government, business, and other sectors.  

“I think it was a valuable experience and would be a great benefit to many in our region,” shared one participant, adding: “I think since many in our region have completed it that follow-up meetings/speakers could help to carry on this important work for our region. Also, supporting more community leaders completing this would be great. I mean those in public office.” 

“Thank you for this opportunity,” shared another survey respondent. “My biggest takeaway from my debrief was that I need to learn to be less critical of both myself and others. As a program leader, the best piece of advice I found was ‘create the environment for what you want to grow.’ Creating the physical, emotional, intellectual environment I want for my company starts with me.” 

This initiative was made possible by grants from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Northland Foundation. If you have questions about the Intercultural Development Inventory or would like more information, contact Northspan Consultant and Welcoming Community Program Manager Amber Lewis at or (218) 481-7737.