Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Everybody is a friend until they burn your house down….

This is something we were warned about when we first arrived in Vietnam. Maintaining face is very important to the Vietnamese which can cause some cultural difficulties when you are having discussions with them. It is, therefore, difficult to determine whether things are going well or not. My Vietnamese phrase of the day is ghum sow doe (tone going down) meaning no problem.

Today has been a bit of a strange day, and I’m not really sure whether it could be considered a success or not. Progress has been a lot slower this week than I had hoped. I was told the foreman would be available to meet with me on Monday, which was then delayed until Tuesday and then again until Wednesday. It was starting to look like our meeting today was going to be delayed again - he was turning into a bit of an illusive character, which made me start wondering whether it was due to something I was or wasn’t doing. Then after lunch I had an impromptu meeting with Mr Dung to go through my proposed training material, now available in Vietnamese. After a brief phone call from Mr Dung, suddenly the illusive foreman appeared and we sat down to go through the training material with him. It seems that the most effective way to engage the employees is through Mr Dung directly, so this is going to be my approach going forward.

One of the other challenges we have faced on our assignments, is expectation management. Some of the clients recognise IBM as a global technology provider and members of our Corporate Service Corps (CSC) team have, therefore, had requests, for free software and its installation. This is not the objective of the IBM CSC program as its aim is to build skills and knowledge within the communities in which we are working. This message, combined with the communication and cultural differences has been, in some cases, a very difficult hurdle to overcome. As a result of differing expectations, some of the assignments and clients have changed very rapidly, over the past 2 weeks, for reasons which we do not fully understand. Through all of these challenges and experiences we have learned to keep smiling, as we as IBMers cannot lose face, and each day we are learning something new about the ways of working in Vietnam.

1 comment:

  1. ghum sow doe (tone going down) meaning no problem. No problem: kho^ng sao da^u! But children in Vietname alway talk:Hum sao da^u!