“Ok, we understand the idea that the overall goal of integration is bringing together the best of both worlds – German approach and American approach. For example, German thoroughness and American speed and flexibility. But how do we react when we find ourselves bringing together the worst of both worlds – sloppy work and far too slow?”
John Otto Magee
Hmm, this is not the easiest of questions to respond to. There is no specific point of entry. It is clear that collaboration is not going well. I suspect that the organization has not been addressing culture. Or that if it has, then most likely not in the right way.
I would have to know much more about the situationt in order to provide any meaningful advice. So let me just make a few general points.
Par for the course
That is a figure of speech. The MerriamWebster Dictionary states: “the score standard for each hole of a golf course; an amount taken as an average or norm, an accepted standard.”
I hope that my statement – that your problem is “par for the course” – is consoling. For the problem you are experiencing is no surprise, is rather normal, and in many ways healthy. No one on either side is doing anything wrong.
Don’t panic. Remain calm. Continue to engage with each other. You’ve entered into a complex relationship. It requires time and patience to work things out.
Always remember, especially in the “heat of the battle”, that you are colleagues. You are in this together. You succeed or fail together. This is personal. And it should be personal. You are human beings and not machines. We human beings make machines. And we live in the Machine Age. But we ourselves are not machines. We do not interact with each other as if we were parts in a machine.
Begin – together – identifying the key points of difference. Literally, what you are fighting about, what you are struggling over. Proceed point-for-point. Don’t be afraid to let the emotions out. Don’t try to suppress them. But always be honest and sincere with each other. And, at all costs, do not be political with each other. Do not treat each other as means to an end, but instead as ends in and of themselves.
Then, point-for-point, engage with each other about the your respective logics, about the deep-lying drivers of your thought and therefore of your action. Explain to each other how you think, why you think that way, where it comes from.
This will not be easy. Most of us don’t usually reflect on this. We think that our approach is universal and not country- or culture-specific. Identifying and then reflecting about our deeper-lying drivers is difficult enough. Explaining them to colleagues from another culture is even more of a challenge. We are simply not used to doing it. It is unfamiliar to us.
My thoughts here might be helpful.