September 10, 2019

Time management in India

Countries and regions

How to successfully prospect in India? Understanding the Indian concept of time and the importance of interpersonal relationships is a prerequisite.

Time management in India

Answers to the questions from the “Prospecting in India” case study

Understanding Time Management in India

Your numerous comments on the “Prospecting in India” case study have enriched the debate and we thank you for them. Indeed, several explanations are possible because many elements come into play.

First of all, it is necessary to devote time to creating bonds of trust and conducting negotiations. But what does time management mean in India? On this subject, you can re-read the article “The Indian conception of time”.

Reminder of context and questions

Steven, American manager of the company Globaltech, selects a software company in India. The Indians must present their project a month later and ask him many questions. After a stream of exchanges, Steven offers to provide answers during the meeting; on the agreed date, the Indians did not follow up.

  1. How can we interpret the contrast between the involvement of the Indians at the launch of the project and their surprising discretion during this first deadline?
  2. How can we understand that they let the date of their interview pass without even alerting Steven?

Several possible explanations

Indian time management

First of all, Indian time management is sometimes looser than its Western conception. If the Indians are not insensitive to the feeling of urgency, they are ironic about the chronic imprecision which sometimes characterizes their management of the calendar.

On this theme, IST, an acronym designating the Indian time slot and meaning Indian Standard Time, is then broken down into Indian Stretchable Time to mark this more “floating” treatment of deadlines!

The qualitative value of time

For Indians, time often has less financial than qualitative value. For them, this variable is considered an asset so that taking the time is generally synonymous with doing things well.

Hence the flood of questions addressed to Steven before the first deadline. His Indian colleagues aimed for an exhaustive understanding of the project before launching, even if, from Steven's point of view, it meant getting lost in premature details.

The connection between time and relationships

This recurrence of requests received by Steven also reveals another dimension of the value of time: the time granted to his collaborators for the realization of a common project is proportional to the importance that we want to give to the relationship with our partners.

In this sense, showing availability is a sign of interest. Steven's attitude may have created doubt in Bangalore about Globaltech's real involvement. The Indians were able to judge that the conditions for effective collaboration were not met and that it was therefore preferable to test the relationship in the medium or long term.

The cyclical conception of time

Following the Indian cyclical concept of time, unseized opportunities will necessarily present themselves at a more opportune moment. In other words, there’s no need to rush things!

Calendar organization

Finally, it must be emphasized here that Steven's management of the calendar itself was not appropriate.

It is always preferable with the Indians to bring together the interviews and review meetings, to multiply the sub-stages of completion of the same project, in order to maintain control of the agenda: both in terms of visibility on its progress , deepening the relationship with your contacts, and appropriate positioning in the event of delays…

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