Through the quantify exercise﹣together with your colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic﹣you have identified and quantified the influence of the topic Communication 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 Communication 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 Communication. 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 Communication. 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 Communication. Then read the questions and answers uploaded to Ask CI. Both of these provide more insight into how the two cultures approach Communication.
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.
Direct vs. Indirect
Explain to your colleagues in which situations in your culture it is appropriate to communicate directly or indirectly.
Professional vs. Personal
Describe to each other when your respective business cultures separate between the professional and the personal, and when they don‘t separate.
Explain to your colleagues when your culture to mixes small with big talk and when it does not.
Help your colleagues to understand which controversial topics can damage a working relationship, and which are not controversial.
Describe to your colleague when, and when not, you would give unsolicited advice.
You responded to the survey and case study on Communication. 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 Communication. You and your colleagues are ready to apply that understanding by combining your respective approaches to Communication.
Step 6 – Formulate
Create an apply-team within your culture. Based on your newly gained insights, formulate a combined approach to communication. Write in simple, clear English how the two approaches﹣German and American﹣could be combined. Do the following:
First, take your quantification and select those key success factors which are based on collaboration.
Second, single out those interactions – between individuals as well as between teams – which are most essential to those success factors.
Third, with the cultural differences in the forefront of your mind, address the following questions: Where must communication be improved? How can it be improved? Not just within your organization, but also in your collaboration with suppliers and customers, whether internal or external to the company.
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 Communication.