Five clips. Five min.
For six groups understanding the influence of national culture on their work is critical to success:
Executive management making strategic decisions. They need to make the right decisions.
Senior management leading cross-Atlantic teams. They need to execute that strategy effectively.
Long-term delegates building bridges between the two cultures. They need to build stable bridges.
Subject area experts sharing important knowhow between cultures. They need to communicate that knowhow clearly.
Colleagues living and working in their home culture, but collaborating with colleagues in the other culture. They are the foundation of global organizations. That foundation needs to be rock-solid.
And central functions professionals. They support the five groups above.
A Third Explanation
Misunderstanding, irritation, and friction are common when Americans and Germans collaborate.However, when the respective sides try to explain their problems they attribute them to one of two causes:
The other side – meaning the other culture – is either unwilling or incapable. Unwilling. Stubborn. Proud. “Things have to be done their way.” Or incapable. Not able. Not competent. “They work they way we did ten years ago.”
Seldom do Germans or Americans consider a third explanation: which is that the other side is both just as willing and just as capable, but that the other side simply has a different approach.
And because that different approach is not familiar to them, it is not considered as the cause of their problems.
We are interested three questions. Our answers to these questions determine whether collaboration between Americans and Germans succeeds or fails.
The first question is where do we differ – or diverge – in our thinking, therefore acting? Differences in logics, approaches, methods, beliefs.
The second question is what affect – or influence – to do these differences have on our collaboration, on how we work together?
And the third question is how do we minimize the downside of the differences, meaning anticipate and prevent problems, while we maximize their upside, meaning combine the inherent strengths of our approaches?
We guide you in three critical conversations:
The first conversation is with yourself. It is a conversation you have had since you could think. Make that conversation explicit, conscious, structured. It is self-reflection: “What and how do I think, therefore act, as an American or as a German?”
The second conversation is with colleagues in your own culture. American-to-American. German-to-German. Initiate that conversation. It should be structured. It is co-self-reflection: “What and how do we think similarly, therefore act similarly, as Americans or as Germans?”
The third conversation is with your colleagues on or from the other side of the Atlantic. American-to-German. Initiate that conversation. It should be structured. It is an exchange of viewpoints: “What and how do we think, therefore act differently, as Americans or as Germans?”
Helpful in Three Ways
We achieve three things. We are helpful in three ways:
First, we provide the best possible answers to three questions: Where do we differ in our thinking, therefore acting? What influence to do these differences have on our collaboration? How do we minimize the downside of the differences and maximize their upside?
Second, we provide a forum for interaction, in which people discuss, debate and develop their understanding of each other. Discussion deepens understanding.
Third, we offer exercises – a form of guidance – for how to apply this understanding – these insights – to concrete situations.
The overall goal is more effective collaboration between Americans and Germans.