Through the quantify exercise﹣together with your colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic﹣you have identified and quantified the influence of the topic Customer on the success of your collaboration. It is now time to understand that influence. This is the basis for combining the respective approaches.

Step 1 - Respond
Go to the topic Customer and respond to its survey and case study under Discuss. Respond in English. If that is your native language, express yourself in clear, straightforward English, keeping in mind that many participants speak and read English as a second language. If English is not your native language, you are not alone in the international business context. Don’t worry about writing in perfect English. Keep it simple.

Step 2 - Reflect
You have responded to the survey and case study. Now read and reflect on the responses from your culture, as well as on the responses from the other culture. The responses may include those from other CI members.

Look first for the way of thinking within the two respective cultures. Then look for the differences between those ways of thinking. And remember, similarities are good, differences are better. In differences lie the opportunity to combine cultural approaches.

Step 3 - Learn
Finally, read CI’s research-based analysis about Customer. Approach describes the pattern of how the two cultures think. Under Examples you have pieces that make up those patterns. View is how one culture‘s approach can be (mis)perceived by the other culture. Advice contains CI’s thoughts on how to anticipate and prevent those (mis)perceptions.


You responded to the survey and case study. You then read and reflected on the responses from your culture and the other culture. Your eyes are focused on identifying patterns in thinking.

Then you read CI’s research-based analysis about Customer. Approach contrasts patterns of thought. The Examples describe those patterns. View is about misperceptions. Advice is how to anticipate the misperceptions.

Step 4 - Deepen
Under Discuss read the Stories about the topic Customer. Then read the questions and answers uploaded to Ask CI. Both of these provide more insight into how the two cultures approach Customer.

Step 5 - Discuss
Now enter into a discussion with colleagues from both cultures. The questions below might be helpful. Who participates in that discussion, how it is structured, and the mode of communication used, is your decision as a team.

Serve vs. Consult
Describe for you colleagues two (non-business) examples: 1. When you were served in just the way you expected, and 2. When you were consulted, also in a very effective and professional way.

Explain where you draw the line between the two, being served and being consulted. What are your expectations, and what are the expecations of the vendor, supplier, consultant.

Describe the ideal collaboration between two companies in your business culture. What are the key components? In other words, what are the questions, topics, areas where the collaboration absolutely has to work well?

You responded to the survey and case study on Customer. You read and reflected on CI’s research-based analysis on the topic. Stories and Ask CI gave you additional insight. After that you engaged in discussion with colleagues from both cultures.

You now understand key cultural differences between Germans and Americans when it comes to Customer. You and your colleagues are ready to apply that understanding by combining your respective approaches to Customer.

Step 6 - Formulate
In the other Combine exercises we refer time and again to your organization's business ecosystem. This topic - Customer - is all about that ecosystem. Your organization is both supplier and customer. You have customers to whom you are a supplier. And you have organizations for whom you are the customer.

Create an apply-team within your culture. Based on your newly gained insights, formulate a combined approach to Customer. Write in simple, clear English how the two approaches﹣German and American﹣could be combined. Do the following:

First, review the key success factors you identified in the quantification. Second, single out your organization's most important business relationships as customer and as supplier - whether these are company-internal or -external.

With the cultural differences in the forefront of your mind address the following question: How can we - as a team - improve those business relationships?

Step 7 - Prepare
Send your proposal to your colleagues in the apply-team on the other side of the Atlantic. You will receive their proposal. Study it carefully, first individually and then as a team. Prepare to engage in discussion and decision with your colleagues from the other apply-team.

Step 8 - Apply
Go into the apply-workshop with a clear and open mind, and with the determination to convert cultural differences from a liability into an asset. Your mission is to find the best way to combine the inherent strengths in the German and the American approaches to Customer.