Cross-cultural differences in software development – Organizational patterns

I hope it’s not any hidden fact anymore to realize the real value of Jim Coplien’s work on “Organization Patterns of Agile Software Development“. It talks about some of the very important factors other than pure technical for the software success. They are also intrinsic part of software development and we can never underestimate them. To begin with we need to accept them.

In one of the organizational patterns, right now I am analyzing the value of cross-cultural differences. Sometimes the practices which are considered to be very good in one culture may not be applicable in other cultural context. Sometimes we try to emulate the values, culture of our parent organization based in another country. While doing so we tend to overlook the realities of existing cultural context. We try to build a big building but on the foundation of other cultural contexts. At the very best it can look like the cover version of an original album. Sometimes we do not acknowledge our limitations, current knowledge and improve upon it. Instead we look upon our elder brother everytime and try to emulate him. We try to show that we want to reach Everest even though everybody knows (but doesn’t show) that foundation is weak.

In my view everybody should recognize one’s own limitations, acknowledge the loopholes and should start working from there and reach to the destination in proper way. Instead people always talk about reaching at the top although nobody knows how.

Let’s take an example of the difference in cultural context. In some of the European countries, it’s quite acceptable to give honest and straightforward feedback on the face. It’s quite acceptable there. It’s part of their cultural traits. It’s embedded in their upbringing. So nobody complains. It’s part of their lifestyle. Everybody respect each other for what they are and by providing honest feedback they are just trying to resolve the issue instead of letting you feel bad. You feel good here!!!

How about another cultural context. Here also, you’d like to discuss things in front of everybody. You think, as it happens in European country, here also it should work. But let’s see the cultural scenario here.

It’s a society based culture. Everybody loves gossip and everybody wants to make the conclusion about another. Here it really makes a difference how other people think about you. So, in case somebody provides you a negative feedback in front of a lot of people, the person may not take it easily. On the contrary he’d like to defend whatever he did. Instead of accepting everything, he’d like to save his face. People here also are conditioned to live like that from ages.

You see the difference. Here also you’d like to implement the same practice which proved to be quite helpful in one cultural scenario. In this cultural scenario it simply may not work.

You may focus on values but how those values are implemented in practice in different cultural scenario may differ entirely. It’s like you’d like to have different class implementions of one interface for different environment.

Sometimes I really don’t understand why people don’t feel proud and accept their cultural heritage. It may have its own loose ends but at the end of it, this is the real foundation on which you’d like to setup your mountain. You may not reach on Everest on day 1, but with continuous efforts you may reach there for sure.

Posted in Organizational Patterns

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Welcome to Sampreshan
Technology Strategist, Speaker, Scrum/XP/Agile Trainer Coach and Trainer
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