10 Jahre IT bei Heidelberger Druckmaschinen

Making cultural peace with the Germans

11. Juli 2011
Von Kolja Kröger und Howard Hutchings
Der Amerikaner Howard Hutchings hat das Unternehmen Heidelberger Druckmaschinen nach mehr als zehn Jahren verlassen. Hier sein Resümee über die Unterschiede zwischen IT-Management made in USA und made in Germany.
Howard Hutchings Ex-CIO der Heidelberer Druckmaschinen AG: "My challenge has been to bring together both cultures of managing IT."
Howard Hutchings Ex-CIO der Heidelberer Druckmaschinen AG: "My challenge has been to bring together both cultures of managing IT."
Foto: Heidelberger Druckmaschinen

"One thing I learned coming to Germany was that the coffee was not only kräftig (strong) but also provided many choices; café crème, latte macchiato, expresso, milch kaffee, as well as what the average American understands as your standard cup of Joe. All good stuff.

Going into a German business meeting was often the same way; strong opinions, varied feelings and ideas, and of course lots of talking. Did I mention lots of talking? But did we resolve anything - except to have another meeting?

Arriving ten years ago from the US as head of IT infrastructure at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, was like being the new kid on the block on a wholly new planet. The cultural differences of our two countries presented challenges not only in everyday life but in the business world as well. I learned in the first week that outcomes are time consuming, that process is king, and that the wheels move slowly to implement.

The Cowboy

It also didn’t take me long to realize that the American style of management was very different from the democratic style of the Germans. I was used to entering a business meeting knowing that there was already a proposed decision made prior by the boss and the task of the group would be only how to implement that decision. The German style is more open discussions, methodical, analytical, time consuming, and evaluating all the various aspects of the process was lengthy. Because of my preconceived ideas of how things should be run quickly earned me the not so flattering nickname of "the cowboy".