Conference, Project Management
3 May 2013
Is it easier today to do the international business than 20 years ago? LIM 2013 PART II

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Just to remind you (for more see PART1) this year EMEA Project Management Institute (PMI)® Leadership Institute Meeting (LIM) gathered about 200 PMI leaders from 44 countries and 60 chapters and was held on April 19-21 in Istanbul, Turkey.

In this post, inspired by the closing speech of LIM: “Crossroads of Culture: How to do Business and Work Together in a Global Marketplace? by Avinash Chandarana, I would like to share my experience and thoughts from the short but enlightening trip to Istanbul.
Avinash Chandarana, as he has described himself on FB: “Passionate Learning and Development professional focused on helping others be successful. Building a high impact learning organisation is a quest; enabling talented staff to maximise all learning opportunities available: formal or informal; online, face to face, socially or on the job. Their development and success is my goal”
Avinash represents diversity through his personal and professional life experiences. Indian by culture, born in Africa and raised and educated in UK, leaves in Brussels and married to a Spanish woman. Do not need to convince you that his background exemplifies a broad understanding of the sensitivities and needs of the growing international and
multi-cultural business environment.
Avinash presented the Lewis Model and I was surprised and proud at the same time to hear the same quotation* I used to describe my speech: “Successful Project Across Borders ” How to Achieve Team Unity? I’m going to present at Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts in Orlando, Florida, this September. Coincidence or a good choice of the author-Does not really matter, I was really happy that we both read and quote the same book. BTW, recommending this book.


According to Lewis there are 3 types of cultures:
  • linear-active – data/result oriented, factual, decisive planners
  • multi-active – dialogue oriented, warm, emotional, impulsive, relationship-oriented
  • reactive – listener oriented, courteous, amiable, compromisers, good listeners
Let me tell you my story to describe these in more details.
I had only left Poland for Istanbul and landed in Frankfurt when I realized I left my laptop on the plane. Rushed to the Lufthansa customer desk, full of hope that would get my laptop soon. Almost crying tried to explain what happened, but the guy did not seem to listen to me just gave me a business card and instructed coolly:
The Cabin Found Property office is open 7am- 7pm (that was 8 pm), please e-mail us tomorrow.  I know, I had completely forgotten I was in Germany. For Germans and Swiss the procedures and plans count more than people feelings and emotions. They stick to facts and agendas – they could not do anything as the office was already closed. Taught for a person like meJ. By the way, I got my laptop back  you can be sure that when lost in Germany you get it returned.
Although Turks are closer to the reactive culture than Poles, but both of us are closer to multi-active  that Poles to linear-active or Turkish to reactive. Bearing this in mind went shopping to the Grand Bazar, where decided to make relationship first – lesson learnt from my previous trips. Believe or not, that worked! After a short, friendly conversation on the real and fake silk, not only managed to negotiate good price for two scarves, but also was treated to a delicious Turkish coffee.
The journey was too short to experience the reactive culture. A tip: do not expect from Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai to confront nor initiate action or discussion. They prefer first listen to and establish the other’s position, then react to it and formulate their own. Face to face contacts are very important for them.


The last, but not least question: Do you think it’s easer today to do international business than it was 20 years ago- See the answer below.


So, let’s start the discussion. I would like to hear your stories, challenges and tips on working globally.

“For a German and a Finn, the truth is the truth. In Japan and Britain it is all right if it doesn”t rock the boat. In China there is no absolute truth. In Italy it is negotiable” Richard D. Lewis. “When Cultures Collide: Managing Successfully Across Cultures”.

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