It’s hard to believe that we are midway through our consulting project. The pressure of putting together our deliverables is catching on. Through the first half of the project, our team put together a scope of work that was edited and redone about three times before we finalized it. The scope of work allowed us to get a better understanding of the services and products Possehl Online Solutions provided. Although we struggled writing the assignment, we learned a lot through the process and were extremely excited to move on to the next step of starting our deliverables. Just this past Wednesday, we had a midpoint check-in call with Mr. Wachter and Mr. Landherr about our progress on our deliverables. From this check-in, we were able to receive feedback on the work we have started and redirect our findings to better fit what our client is looking for before we dive deeper into the project.
Through our interactions with our client in Germany, I was able to see the similarities between the cultural norms of Germany and the United States, especially in communication with both countries using low-context communication. Although there are many similarities in communication, such as directly expressing opinions and expertise, there were still some difficulties. Like Meade demonstrated in class with the paper tearing activity, difficulties can arise with communications when instructions are not specific or clear. The result is work that does not align with the purpose or the specific goal of the assignment. Additionally, the virtual setting of this project has also played a factor in making communication more difficult.
As our team prepared for our midpoint check-in call and began to work on our deliverables, we discovered that we did not know exactly what the client wanted; for example, what was considered a strong competitor and what was considered too far for expansion. With this project being in a virtual setting, we are unable to ask questions right when they come up as we were working, leaving us a little lost and confused at times. However, we saw the check-in call as an opportunity to clarify and further understand Possehl’s objectives, as well as how the company operates and its services.
As for cultural norms, the virtual setting has definitely eased and simplified the differences between the German and American cultural differences. Much of the differences in cultural norms our team has experienced are in the use of meeting time. Germans spend very little time having small talk to warm up to the conversation, while Americans love small talk. Our team made sure to stay on top of the agenda provided and not move off-topic during our meetings with our client. To achieve success in this international project, our team has also made sure to practice good business etiquette, such as being punctual, dressing professionally, using professional language, and many more.
Taking part in this International consulting project has expanded my knowledge and changed my perspective on global business. The hands-on experience has made this project stressful, interesting, and exciting. While cultural competency plays an important role in successfully conducting international business, communication is just as important. Going into this project, I expected challenges to arise from differences in cultural norms and business etiquette. However, the most challenging part of this project for me was communication and being able to correctly understand exactly what our client is looking for from us. Having never been to Germany or learned much about this country, this project helped me broaden my knowledge of the country and get a better understanding of how business is conducted there. As the semester progresses, I look forward to learning more about global business and cannot wait to see our team’s final result.