Action Planning and Tracking: Cultural Barriers

Wow… Yesterday I released a post about the importance of implementing regular action planning and tracking and how to create an action plan to benefit the most from them.

A comment was concerning, but not surprising though:
Not having an action plan is pretty common 🀐 😣 😳

In full fairness, I worked for and with a good couple of companies (small and big ones too) who did not or only occasionally used action plans. When used, they did it for compliance reasons, not to improve the performance. An intriguing piece of info is that the only place where action planning, tracking and follow-up were religiously used, was at a French company. And it was super interesting to see the tension between the British and French managers, and engineers: a real cultural battle.

Okay, this will be a bit provoking – but let me analyse this way. A long time ago I wrote my MBA diploma thesis about cultural differences in the decision-making process and I saw very similar tensions and communications challenges. I used the old-fashioned but proven Hofstede model to draw conclusions and statistics proved it. If we look at the cultural dimensions of France and the UK (link in comment), there are two obvious differences:

Firstly, in the UK, we cope very well with uncertainty: “At 35 the UK has a low score on Uncertainty Avoidance which means that as a nation they are quite happy to wake up not knowing what the day brings and they are happy to β€˜make it up as they go along’ changing plans as new information comes to light.” Not in France. They love to plan and follow through.

Secondly, in France, hierarchy is not only accepted but embraced and formally enforcing accountability is considered totally normal. When I tried to implement a regular action plan and review it with my born-and-bred English team, they felt offended, and I felt puzzled 😳 (Hungary is much closer to France in these dimensions).

To sum up, there is a good reason why action trackers are not widespread, but if we see an opportunity to do it better, why not? It’s just about being proactive in the communication and engaging throughout the implementation, highlighting the mutual benefits.


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