Try to coin a yes sentence!

Seven years ago, I visited India for the first time. After an IT adventure of 4 years in Brazil I crossed oceans and countries to land in India. What a change. From football to cricket and from Carnival with flamboyantly dancers to religious festivities as Diwali and Holi with many ceremonies. And … from a country with 200 million people to the second world nation with a population of about 1.3 billion human beings. It’s a nice fact that both countries have a common history of winning twice in the Miss Universe beauty contest.

The goal of my visit was to find developers for Internet projects for my new company DevRepublic. I contacted a software company in Indore, got invited, packed the bags and took the plane. India here I come! With my best friends Internet and Google all is at my fingertips.

Another world

I landed in Indore, a city in west central India. For the fact-checkers: around 2.2 million inhabitants, the largest Asian colony and the world’s largest Ganesha Idol of 8 meters. The colors, the different smells, the crowded traffic and friendly people overwhelmed me. After a good night and a (much too) spicy Indian breakfast, I took a rickshaw. With the address written on a paper note I asked the driver if he knew the place. ‘Yes, yes’. Great. The first driver was already a hit. After 100 meters, he stopped and started talking to some people on the road. They were pointing to different directions. Maybe he misunderstood my handwriting? After 10 stops and 45 minutes we reached the destination. Wait. Did we see our hotel just somewhat further in almost the same street? Anyway, I reached my destination.

Yes, yes, no problem

After a warm welcome and some chitchat the business talk began. I needed developers and asked if they have and specified the needed skills. ‘Yes, yes, no problem’. Wow. That’s good. I told them about a tight deadline for a project and asked if they can deal with it. ‘Yes no problem’. I asked for confirmation and got an ‘ok’. I was wondering about the typical head shaking while answering me. It was a movement in between ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The rickshaw driver and the hotel people did the same. Funny. We made the deal and I went home happily with an offsite team of 6 Indian developers. It’s a small world after all.

Journey just started

Back home I thought the travel was ended but soon I knew that the real journey just started. In some time, I discovered that not all developers had the skills I asked for. How is that possible? And why didn’t they meet the deadlines? I asked specially for it and they confirmed with ‘yes, no problem’. Lucky, with hard work, tight communication, many cups of Chai tea and lots of masala dosas (the Indian equivalent of Coca Cola and pizzas) we managed the projects. After some Google actions, I discovered that it’s a common ‘issue’ that Indians can’t say no. It’s embedded deeply in their culture.

Face saving

To avoid saying ‘no’ is the cultural tradition of ‘face-saving’. Saying ‘no’ is considered rude and impolite. It’s believed also that by saying ‘no’ conflicts are provokes. They usually beat around the bush, instead directly and openly saying ‘no’. From early on Indians are learning to not say ‘no’ to an important person. How more important than a client if you are running a business? It might explain the mutual misunderstanding and the ‘yes, yes, no problem’ I got often.

Dutch directness

What a contrast with our Dutch directness. We don’t mince words. We say it straight up and direct, whether it’s feedback to a manager or a simple ‘no’ when someone is asking you a favor. The contrast is even more with my nature of being impatience and talkative. That last years I learned to count till 10 before give a reply (verbal or non-verbal) however this is still number one at my list of personal improvements …

Good to know about those culture differences. It can be a threshold and an obstacle in the communication with Indians or other Eastern people if you are not aware of this. And I wasn’t aware of it before … For the next time, it’s better to go into the culture of the country before your first visit. Now I understood the uncomfortable situation of the Indian developers. They just didn’t want to be rude to me. However, it can be somewhat ‘unhandy’ when you agreed on deadlines with clients as BP and Wild Bean Café based on the ‘yes, we can’ of the Indian team.

Try to coin a yes sentence

Is there any remedy to avoid misunderstanding about a ‘yes’? Yes, there is. Ask open questions. Don’t ask if the other understood you well but ask if they can tell in their own words what they understood. By the way, this question is also the best to ask to persons of your own culture. You also can’t look into their head if they really understood you well. I know that the chance of misunderstanding might be smaller because they are in the same context but nevertheless. And if you ask a closed-ended question then try to avoid a usual ‘no’. Each time you would usually say no, try to coin a yes sentence. That will help also.

Learning every day

Since years we have an own development center in Ahmedabad. All the professionals are employed at DevRepublic India. This was a very good step to do. Communication is more open because we are all colleagues instead of client and hired workers. Together we are searching constantly for improvements in the quality of our software, people, processes and, last but not least, communication. We are all aware of the cultural differences and we try to make the gap as narrow as possible. Mutual understanding is the key.

A fresh blend of styles and combined experience makes for a unique and efficient mission control center: Sanjay, John and me. We combine years of experience working with India and Brail and possess the know-how to pierce through the cultural barriers. We use the knowledge and experience that helps us to modernise the cooperation with the offshore development teams and extract the most efficient ways to process the wishes of out clients. The bridges we have build for our clients are ready for use and the communication channels are open. It’s our proven way to do business, with happy clients and happy employees for reference!

 

 

Knowledge Sharing

In the fast-paced world it is important to keep up with new techniques and developments. DevRepublic started with knowledge sharing sessions at the office in India.

The session was about cross platform app development. We shared knowledge about the basics of cross platform development. We discussed the scope, pros and cons, available frameworks and tools to develop an app. Besides that we also discussed sample apps using Cordova

HIRING EMPLOYEES FROM A DIFFERENT CULTURE

A lot of times we hear that cultural fit is important when hiring employees. The employees’ beliefs and behaviors should be in alignment with their employers’ core values and company culture. Big companies are investing in personality tests to get the best employee and the culture segment has become a large and important portion of the hiring process.

Of course, cultural fit is important but we would like to show you cultural fit should not be used for creating a homogenous workforce. You can also reach culture fit with diversity, and therefore also with employees from a different culture. In our opinion hiring employees from a different culture is a very positive experience.

Therefore, we will show you by using the case of Sailing Today why you should consider hiring employees from a different culture and why it is a positive experience for both parties.

SAILING TODAY
Since the past 6 months, I (Ravi) am working with Sailing today as a Javascript developer. Sailing Today choose to work with two employees from India (DevRepublic), a designer (Yajuvendra) and me (Ravi). They hired us to create/manage scoring boards for sailing events, teams and individual athletes. During the past 6 months, I went to the Netherlands for 3 weeks and worked at their company in Dronten.

GIVING ADVICE

Sailing Today hired me to give advice and work on their platform. They are using the platform to manage events and it is built in DotNetNuke (DNN). The problem for the client was in short that DNN was not easy to scale and MSSQL was the only option for data storage (including archive). Due to a great relationship with our client I could (1) discuss their issues and find out what was important to them and (2) discuss whether they are willing to try something new.

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS FROM OVERSEAS

After we discussed the requirement we have chosen for MongoDB as database. One compelling reason is that MongoDB boasts built-in scalability. Each post and its metadata can be stored as a single document. As the schema changes on the live database, MongoDB can accommodate these changes without costly schema migrations. In addition, MongoDB’s support for auto-sharing and high availability eased operational chokepoints for us. MongoDB enabled platform to scale horizontally across commodity hardware without having to write and maintain complex, custom sharing code.

MongoDB concepts and features are similar, in many respects, to relational databases so developers may also find the transition seamless.

Besides that, the project required easy to create, manage and customize multilingual user interface. It needs to be easy for the users so that they can easily subscribe to event. We proposed a responsive template for the website and integrated the best HTML5 and CSS design technique to make website equally impressive and appealing on every device. To increase the loading speed of the website we are making sure that the best approach to be used is to minimize the CSS and JavaScript code on the website. Also, we optimized the images on the website. For example: a great designing pop up was designed on the website for sign up to reduce unnecessary HTTP requests.  We are implementing the website which is stable, secure, easy to manage while also having a wide reach, allowing posting events. Laravel can also communicate fluently with MongoDB which is a great plus and Laravel has a rich set of secure packages available.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I would also like to talk in depth about my new workplace and how it helps clients to work with developers in their own office. No doubt, I love my work place in India but working at Sailing today was different in a positive way. Not only because workhours and culture are different but also because of below points:

Quick responses:

Working at client place was very helpful to them, whenever they needed assistance they just Shout ‘Ravi!’ and I was there to answer their queries, discuss something new or find them a solution.

Relevance:

There is a developer sitting next to you that (1) know what’s going on (2) can change directions easily and (3) a casual conversation can change priorities rather than waiting for an allotted meeting time. This means quick responses and in a short time both parties are on the same level. When you can tune with the client, you can share your visions anytime you want to. The client also knows challenges the business is facing in other areas, such as sales and marketing, and can share these potential solutions or fixes right away. The combination between the clients view and my view I experience as quiet ideal.

When working remotely, you always have an image in your mind that everything is decided already and you just have to cook code to put their idea in reality. But this is not the case at Sailing today office. We discussed a lot about the flow, many times we changed it to cope up with new requirement arrived from recent discussion.

RELATIONSHIP

Working physically together, improves your relationship more than business relations. So, when your trip is completed you have some new friends.

For me this experience was something I embraced with both hands. Personally, I wanted to make a difference for the client although it was a long travel from home. The client was depending on my work and contribution. Therefore, I made the decision to go to Sailing Today and when I look in hindsight, the onsite assignment was a true success.

Thanks, Sailing Today for giving me a warm welcome and an experience I will never forget. I hope to see you again in summer.

LIKE TO HIRE A DEVELOPER? YOU CAN! E-MAIL US: INFO@DEVREPUBLIC.NL

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