18 Mar 2018

The difficult truth about Cross Culture

Cross culture is the unspoken issue in many a  global collaboration.

When global conglomerates seek out Indian talent to work with them, a lot of attention is focused on quality of work and cost arbitrage. But there is one important aspect that gets left out.

Here’s an example. A large Dutch financial organisation is seeking to outsource its IT business to a large multinational in India. All has gone well into the negotiation and the deal has almost been signed up

Hans: Vikas I am now waiting for the final go ahead from our CFO. Once that comes I need the work to get started almost immediately.

Vikas: Of course, Hans. My provisional transition team is on standby. Say the word and I will have them ready to fly out. Visa formalities are already in proce

ss but we just need the final go ahead. And even if they cannot fly out to Den Hague immediately – we will start remote working out of India till such time as that happens.

Hans: I was also wondering Vikas

Vikas: Yes?

Hans: How is the team going to work together?

Vikas: Oh, we have a process in place for that.

Hans: No I mean, we’ve had cultural issues with Indian teams before. Is there anything we can do to avoid that? It’ll save a lot of time during the transition process. We’ve had delays in projects earlier because of this.

Vikas: Er… Hans… we have a process in place

Hans: Is it not possible to get some kind of a cultural overview?

Vikas: Oh, do you think it’s necessary Hans?

Hans: I absolutely insist. Without it this project will not work.

And there ensues a mad scramble to figure out how to go about getting someone to manage a cross culture training session.

The truth is that not many realise that this is an essential part of winning a deal. When two cultures work together there are bound to be differences. And therefore misunderstandings. And of course, in the workplace this can lead to loss of time, productivity and delays in delivery.

For every successful global project that takes off there are several that are fraught with problems. Large complex multi-million dollar enterprises run into many a road block. But while most large projects go into intense levels of prep, all aimed to making them succeed there is one point that remains unspoken: that of cross culture.

Cross cultural communication issues if not addressed could well be the stumbling block for many an important project. And no longer is language a barrier. I t’s the unspoken and unaddressed manifestations of cultural differences. So why do we let something like this trip up a large enterprise? Because it’s difficult to admit that while we speak the same language we don’t say the same thing. Once you admit it and address it, you can have a team that more than doubles in efficiency! And that’s the simple truth of cross cultural communication!

And yes, if you do want to address the ‘difficult truth’ reach out to us and we’ll make things a bit easier.