Managing Time: Can we use Bloomberg’s Method in India?

by Brandi Moore on March 22, 2011

Cross cultural clockMike Bloomberg, New York City’s mayor and founder of Bloomberg has set a new tone inside the city’s office: Mind the clock. The Mayor has installed count-up clocks which are started when the meeting begins to give employees a sense of how much time they are spending.

According to the mayor’s press secretary; “We’re always looking to find ways to make things work faster….”We’re not here to site around and meet with each other — we’re here to get things done.”

This device called TIM: Time is Money. It is a great illustration of the American mind set. Most of us don’t have a clock planted right near the meeting table counting down the seconds, but we do believe that wasting time is a bad idea because time equals money.

When we work with India and try to push our time objectives forward, difficulties arise. Today I will talk about the difficult of getting India to deliver on time. To learn how to solve this cross-cultural challenge quickly check out the training program in the Online Academy.

In the US we spend a lot of time trying to determine how long a project will take. Inside a project plan we hedge against risk if it can be identified. Often, we don’t include differing interpretations of time in this risk. Why should we right?

The problem is when cultures don’t have the same understanding of time, they react differently. In India, the sense of time, called time orientation, is different. Its based on the Hindu philosophy that time is ever evolving. Time continues from this life to the next. Time is not wasted in India. Instead, the focus is on getting things done as they come, which can be detrimental to a project plan.

A few ideas on how to manage this difference:

1.) Consider your plan for completion. What kind of gates are included for you to track progress?

2.) Review the emails you recently received from your team. Are there hidden message about timing included? Indians are indirect communicators who rarely come forward with a blanket statement about deadline failure.

3.) Does your team understand the implications of their work against the rest of the project? Often the project work inside one team plugs into another. This needs to be clear up front when working with India.

4.) Do you have a formal method for tracking your project’s timing?

To learn how to effectively manage time differences in India, a real cross-cultural challenge, attend the course in the Online Academy.


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