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'Yes' cultures

Recently there has been some discussion about the impact of cultural differences on offshore outsourced projects. In a particular to India, "yes" culture, when Indian vendors say yes to most of the demands put forward by the client. The yes here is not based on their abilities but more habitual (culture). Do you think that the "yes" culture is an important issue that has to be addressed? Have you come across instances where you have realized the effects of "yes" culture?

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You are right about the "yes" culture -- sometimes there is an intense desire to please, where an Indian vendor can defer the "push back" until the inevitable happens! I have seen this many times when deadlines have come and gone. I suggest you start asking your vendor to paraphrase and "signoff" electronically on what they verbally said "yes" to. This will make them think twice before jumping to say "yes."

This was first published in August 2004

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