Sunday, May 9, 2010

The waiting Indian

One of the things that came in my mind lately was that I observe Indian individuals often have problems with serial thinking. When confronted with a rather complex task, a lot of Indian individuals are unable to analyse the task into logical/serial steps to take. Of course this depends a lot on the length and quality of their education.

Because splitting up complex tasks in parts (process/serial-approach) is a common practice in Indian businesses, a manager can be fooled to think that serial thinking is typical and well-accepted in India.
Well, it isn't.

The problem in the Indian approach is that every step in the serial chain is assigned to separate individuals. Often the employee who is active further in the serial chain has no idea at all what is happening before him or what is done with his work after him. I often experience that they don't even care about the broader picture. It's like if Indian youth is trained to do a well-described individual task. Without an explicit order from someone higher in the hierarchy, nothing is done or undertaken.

As a consequence the Indian employee prefers always to have a written-out procedure. If such a procedure is available, then of course he follows this procedure meticulously until a slight variation is needed. Suddenly, the guy then is paralysed and doesn't know what to do or how to proceed any more. This paralysis is a bad thing, because in combination with a strict hierarchical work organisation, often the guy doesn't dare to ask for advice or take a decision except when it is decided by his direct superior. If that superior is not available right away, the employee tends to wait until he is available again.
Such a scene can take hours.

Indians have a special talent for the broadly practised Indian activity of waiting. In fact, they have to wait their whole lives.
- When they are born, they have to wait between 1 and 12 months to be given a name;
- When going to school, they have to wait every day to see if their teacher shows up;
- About the time their hormones start to demand attention, they have to wait till their parents tell them it's about time to marry someone of their parent's choice. Often then they have to say farewell to their lovers and wait for the suffering to end while they are married already to someone else;
- In supermarkets they have to wait in endless chaotic "rows" and every time an article is not labelled (which I estimate is the case with more or less 5% of the products sold) the waiting can extend to almost an hour. I experienced this myself one more time yesterday, when "a problem occurred" and all 7 of the cashiers left their row and went staring at the problem "being solved";
- In traffic they discover that buying a four wheeler is perhaps good for their status, but not good for reaching the place quicker;
- Once they got their degree and are full of expectations to land in a good job, they have to wait before they find out that the heralded 8% growth a year can't make even 20% of Indian youth get a suitable job;
- If any decision must be taken, however small it may be, they wait till the whole family discussed it and agreed;
- They wait for the power cut to end, they wait for the next water supply, they wait for their wives speaking again to them after a fight, they wait till summer's over, they wait for winters to end, for the next promotion, for the next salary increase, for the fast to be over ...;
- They wait for a Sir, a Boss, an American or a Crore Pati to give them a positive remark, they wait for a radical change in karma, they wait for Ganesha to notice their life, ...

They dream about a better life for their kids.

They are waiting for an Indian summer.

The Italian man who went to Malta

If an Italian visiting Malta already faces such problems, then you can imagine what communication problems an expat in a completely different culture can have.
Very funny audio.

The Italian man who went to Malta ...