What went wrong
At the outset it was not clear to Anna what Steven wanted. His request that she enter into an agreement did not provide enough information.
Before Germans consider entering into an agreement they expect a significant amount of context information.
Americans, in contrast, need less information before entering into an agreement. They reserve the right, however, to exit the agreement as they become more informed.
When Steven did send over comprehensive context information Anna found it to be poorly prepared. She had to invest time in order to systematize it.
Germans expect a deliverable to be complete. The receiver should be able to act on it immediately.
Americans are comfortable with partial deliverables. Provided they are sent quickly, are relevant, and actionable.
Steven’s constant follow up annoyed Anna. He didn’t give her time to consider his request. And it implied to Anna that Steven did not consider her to be reliable.
Follow up in Germany is rare. Once an agreement has been made, – even a preliminary agreement – both parties expect each other to follow through.
Follow up in the U.S. is essential to agreements. Follow up maintains forward movement, communicates degree of urgency, and informs quickly about changes in parameters.
Anna found Steven’s name-dropping of high-level American managers to be a crude and unprofessional form of pressure. Anna was not impressed. Steven simply wanted to underscore the pressure under which he was working.
Yes / No
Despite their miscommunication, Anna not only agreed to help Steven, she found the project interesting and important. Anna had said “yes” to Steven’s request. She had much to contribute.
Unfortunately, Steven did not understand her signals. Nor did Anna realize that Steven had misunderstood her signals.
Did we miss anything?