While we were ice skating on the frozen canals and lakes of Holland, it was humid and hot in Johannesburg. Our South African partners on the project were fighting against the heat. It was summer holiday season in South Africa and business was slow.
This contrast is a good image of the sometimes completely different worlds we are living in when it comes to managing our project. We with our Dutch background and culture are more direct, want to have things done and confirmed and we have a little difficulty with living with uncertainties. It seems like this is totally not the way it works for our South African partners. They are always almost extremely enthusiastic when we talk with them during our telephone meetings. They also confirm when we ask them to do certain things within a certain timeframe as we then agreed on. However, most of the time we have to remind them again and again. It sometimes feels that you have to chase them on every little thing we agreed on.
This is one of the learning aspects of the Real Life Business Project at Ambition Academy. We have to manage the project on a distance. Not only the physical distance, but also the distance in culture, attitude and business values is big. We have not even yet met the people we are working with. Maybe our project is also a little different, as it was already almost a project itself to find a Project Executive for our idea of building a Medical Supply Centre for Diabetes. We have to be persistent but careful at the same time. We absolutely do not want to chase our South African partners away with our purposiveness, but we absolutely do want to achieve our goals. It is important to keep on communicating, making sure we all share the same vision and objectives.
Nicole Bosters and Gert van Westing