A number of times I have written about Indian service. Sometimes I have had good experiences, but other times I have been quite frustrated by the lack of service I have got, and particularly that things have taken much longer time than expected/promised. My good friend Trond Skundberg wrote an article about this different understanding of time earlier this week. Well worth to read!
Last Saturday I should drive from Mumbai to Lonavla to meet my friends living in Pune. After five minutes on the road I realized that something was wrong with the car. First reaction is anger and frustration. I could see us not coming to Lonavla at all and wasting both my day and my friend’s day. After the first frustration was over, I started to think about what to do to fix the problem instead of being frustrated. Luckily I knew there is a garage just next to my old building, so I went there and hoped for the best. Fortunately the damage was easy to spot, so even I (who know nothing about cars) could explain it to the person in the garage (who knew hardly anything about English).
They quickly said yes, yes, this is something we can fix. After having heard this yes, yes before I was off course quite skeptic and thought that this would be both expensive and take a lot of time. They told me that it will cost about INR 2500, which was fair to me. They then told me that the car would be ready at 5.30 the same day. So no trip to Pune I thought. Then they asked again: “Do you want the car at 2.30 or 5.30?” A bit puzzled I of course answered 2.30. As any good Indian would have done, we went to a cinema to kill off some time.
After the movie was done, I expected that we had to go back to the garage and be told that the car would be fixed in a few hours only. But to my surprise it as already ready when we came there at 3 o’clock! I just paid and off we went! Really nice!
This thing about different understandings of time is something that is very often mentioned as one main barrier in IT-projects that are being conducted across shores. This small example shows that Indian actually is able to do things on time, and with correct quality! But if that does not happen, what do you do then? In the above mentioned article by Trond he gave a few suggestions. Here I would like to add a few more:
First of all you have to be aware that it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that things happen when you want it to happen. Yes, sometimes it can happen, like in the example of the car, but if it doesn’t it is your problem. Secondly you have to follow up on the progress of the work. Simply asking if the deadline will be met is not good enough. It is too easy to answer yes to such a question. You have to try to set up some measurable parameters for the progress. It is also important to keep in mind misunderstandings that easily can happen. You have the obvious wording mistakes, like “half five” which in English is 5.30 and in Norwegian 4.30 (half past five versus halfway to five). An expression like “next weekend” can also mean different things. I have made a habit of always saying things two times with slightly different wordings. If the person I spoke to seems to have understood it the same way both times, it is at least one indication that he/she have understood it correctly. Hope this tip can help you.
My “journey” both to the garage and to Pune last weekend was quite successfully. Above you can see my car parked in typical “Pune style”. If you find a sign that say parking is not allowed at that place, do park there! The sign will probably prompt the security people in the society to look after your car more than they would have done if it was parked some other place!
Talk to you soon