2018.05.17 Time

Time is the eighth and last of the Culture Map dimensions.

This is the only of the eight concepts where USA and Denmark overlap completely, and there is not much to say about how we all like people to show up at meetings when they have agreed to do so and to deliver on projects according to the plan.

Likewise, if you know you can't arrive or deliver as promised, giving a timely heads up is equally appreciated among Danes and Americans.

HBR writes about this dimension: "All businesses follow timetables, but in India, Brazil, and Italy, people treat a schedule as a suggestion. In Switzerland, Germany, and the U.S., people typically stick to the plan. This scale measures whether you view time as linear or flexible, depending on how much value you place on structure or adaptability."

As discussed under Trust, in both countries trust is very much built on job performance, and delivering as agreed - or notifying timely - contributes greatly to one's trustworthiness.

Unfortunately, timely delivery is so important that quality sometime seem to suffer.

Along a similar vein, given the difference in decision making style, implementing decisions may require more time if they have been dictated compared to arrived at through consensus. Danes and Americans may thus have different expectations on how long time it takes to turn a plan into reality.

Obviously, just the fact that time is denoted differently in USA than in Europe can also contribute to broken expectations. Make sure to write out the month in letters rather than discussing 7/4 is Independence Day on July 4th or April 7th once the project is on time while still three months delayed.

In the previous post on Communication, I discussed how obtuse Americans can be in their private communication even though business talk is very direct. Similarly, the timeliness required in American business looks much different when it comes to social encounters. If you invite Americans home to a sit down dinner, the wise host plans the menu to be something that doesn't have to be served at a very precise time. (I have written more about socializing California style here.)