Hans and 200 American Engineers
Hans is German, a senior-level manager, in a major, global German company. He is an excellent manager, very experienced, and a first-rate engineer. About 50 years old, Hans is married, and has two children. He is respected and liked. Hans is a good guy, a solid guy.
Hans and the U.S. have a long relationship. His father did business in the U.S. The family went on vacations to Florida and to California. As a engineering student, Hans even took a course on American History.
When he married, he and his wife took a vacation to the U.S., and they’ve been there with their children. And, of course, his work has taken him to the U.S. time and again over the last fifteen years.
But for Hans it was always something fresh and fascinating to visit the United States. Always eager to learn something new, to get to know the people, to introduce himself, Germany and Germans to the Americans.
Hans takes the German-American relationship very seriously. He knows how critical it is for both countries politically and economically. Hans’ company did a major reorganization. Two hundred American engineers were added to his team.
Hans has managed Americans before, but not that many. He decided to hop on a plane over to Chicago to spend a week with his new colleagues. Especially important was meeting his three new American direct reports.
They would meet several times over four days. There was a lot to discuss and to clarify. The reorganization of the business unit meant all sorts of changes in its structure, in key work processes, and internal hand-offs of work results.
How well do you think Hans understands America and Americans? How well do you think Americans understand Germany and Germans?