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Odd American Behavior?

Postby Martin_US » Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:20 am

Wow, this is the GD forum, thus I can ask this :)

Has anyone noticed that Americans do not take responsability for their actions?

Whilst earlier, I didn't gave much about it, I noticed this over the past few years more and more.
Americans do not state their first and last name in business affairs, when presented with written complains they do not sign a receipt. In general, they are not accountable for anything. Despite all the stomp speeches, they never own a problem when it causes issues or conflics.

Yet, as consumers they expect total service and behave (often) like gutter scum. Go to your local department store and look around. The shopping carts occupy the parking lot instead of being rolled back where they belong. The shelves with the merchandize look as if Fat Boy just dropped in. You find underwear in the stationary section. Empty sodas even if store policy forbids food and drink in the store. Open boxes, stolen goods. Merchandize on the floor in the aisles causing safety issues. Carts being placed in the aisles to ensure passing is impossible.

Despite strict laws, the freeway looks like a garbage dump. Indicators to signal change of direction appears to be a new invention. After all, other people should be able to anticipate where one wants to drive.

Yet, and that's my point, they expect total service, despite the chaos they cause. They are unable to articulate what they really want, because they don't know or never thought about it. I sometimes work in retail during bench time and I have not ever met one customer who was able to say what he really wants from a new laptop.

They want a price check on items, make you unlock the cabinet and then are amazed by the price. I understand that people like to safe money, but an item marked at $599 won't cost $100 even at a sale.

When you are with another customer, they interrupt. Not with an 'Excuse me, may I ask a quick question?', but really in rude ways and are offended when you tell them that you have a customer already. If you politely point that out, you can surely expect they complain with the next manager.

Now, if I take those observations and translate them to consulting business I find many of the same, just in different ways.

Carts in the parking lot = Total chaos in the description of blue print documents with endless disconnects, getting in the way of a smooth ride. Documentation is aged or not available at all. No index or cross references. The project plan has about as many holes as a noodle mesh. VISO as a process flow tool.

Mixed up and chaotic shelves = Abbrivations used that no one has a clue what they mean or worse titles and descriptions misleading. I worked for a company where aquisition was referring to purchasing. One company had 8 different meanings for one abbrivation. Another client asked me about "Bobj" and if I new about it. I said "no".
After google, I found out that BOBJ is a company and what he ment was "business objects". Never mind that in the course of our conversation I had shown him an excel demo using business objects. Of course he told his manager I wouldn't know anything about data conversion. Never mind I went to BC420 (LSMW) and possibly have a lot more conversions under my belly than many of my peers. Admitting that he used a wrong term is of course unthinkable. Another company made IT change the label "material" to "SKU" through out SAP, because this is what the users where used to.

Accountability and responsability = Asking for the impossible as mandatory success factor regardless of time and effort needed and when the shit hits the fan not having the balls to stand up for their decision, but to blame someone else. Ideally a contractor and obmitting the objections given by the contractor. For one client I had to invent a completely new pricing process. It could have been done using standard pricing, but the number of condition types would have exceeded any maintainable volume. Granted, not all possible combinations would have been used, but alas, you have to do the setup for it.

Price checks = Everything WITH the kitchen sink free of charge. Ideally cross-functional with modules that have nothing to do with each other at no cost. Consultant with age of 25 (perfect to bully around), 5 full life cycles, three languages and at least 20 years experience with MBA and SAP certification, never mind that those cost real money.

Rudeness = Putting the consultants in the worst possible office space with worn out desks and chairs, ensuring the noise level is close to a jet liner taking off and getting upset when focusing on a problem is close to impossible.
Futher wondering why the god damn fluctuation rate is high and constant change of consultants leads to delays.

Customer service = Expectation that a consultant deals with all the short comings of a shitty life with a smile and treats the client in a friendly manner, no matter the BS delivered, conflicting messages to deal with, possible personal constrains. And God help it, if any company would have a decent coffee machine.

So, the question is where does this attitude come from and what can be done about it?

Per my observation this happens in private and business life and I can't be the only one who observed this. I am completely the opposite person. I never mix up shelves, I always roll back the carts, I don't mind taking responsability and stand my ground, I politely wait until it is my time and I know that good things cost money and treat my guests and colleagues well.
Last edited by Martin_US on Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby blueteeth » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:43 pm

Superhero comics influence in childhood / adolescence ?
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby VLozano » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:45 am

Here the shopping carts can be used only after put 1€ on them... that euro is recovered when rolled. People is rude, everybody seems to be in a hurry, and no one thinks about others' feelings/needs.

It's not America, don't worry about it.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby bgamble » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:05 am

Martin_US wrote:Wow, this is the GD forum, thus I can ask this :)

Has anyone noticed that Americans do not take responsability for their actions?


As an Odd American I can make a few comments on your post

Martin_US wrote:Whilst earlier, I didn't gave much about it, I noticed this over the past few years more and more.
Americans do not state their first and last name in business affairs, when presented with written complains they do not sign a receipt. In general, they are not accountable for anything. Despite all the stomp speeches, they never own a problem when it causes issues or conflics.


We don't generally use our last names in business because we are generally informal in business communications.

I was a customer service manager for years. Why the hell would I need to sign a receipt for a complaint? Is this related to the Europe nonsensical need to put some stupid stamp on everything the crosses your desk. Perhaps Europeans have to sing a receipt for a complaint because they are inclined to steal them like everything else their sticky little fingers come in contact with

Martin_US wrote:Yet, as consumers they expect total service and behave (often) like gutter scum. Go to your local department store and look around. The shopping carts occupy the parking lot instead of being rolled back where they belong. The shelves with the merchandize look as if Fat Boy just dropped in. You find underwear in the stationary section. Empty sodas even if store policy forbids food and drink in the store. Open boxes, stolen goods. Merchandize on the floor in the aisles causing safety issues. Carts being placed in the aisles to ensure passing is impossible.


Yes we leave the carts in the lot because there are people employed to round them up. This service is included in the price of our purchases

In Europe if there was not a deposit required to use a cart, every damn cart in the store would be stolen every single day.

Martin_US wrote:Despite strict laws, the freeway looks like a garbage dump. Indicators to signal change of direction appears to be a new invention. After all, other people should be able to anticipate where one wants to drive.

Yet, and that's my point, they expect total service, despite the chaos they cause. They are unable to articulate what they really want, because they don't know or never thought about it. I sometimes work in retail during bench time and I have not ever met one customer who was able to say what he really wants from a new laptop.

They want a price check on items, make you unlock the cabinet and then are amazed by the price. I understand that people like to safe money, but an item marked at $599 won't cost $100 even at a sale.

When you are with another customer, they interrupt. Not with an 'Excuse me, may I ask a quick question?', but really in rude ways and are offended when you tell them that you have a customer already. If you politely point that out, you can surely expect they complain with the next manager.


Buddy - This sounds a bit like sour grapes from a Spanish dude who interacted with a single rude American. By the way, You sure this guy was not Canadian? Most Mexicans say we look alike

Martin_US wrote:
Now, if I take those observations and translate them to consulting business I find many of the same, just in different ways.


The rest of this rant appears to have something to do with SAP consulting so it should not be included in a post on GD in my opinion..... O and by the way... VAGINA


Martin_US wrote:Carts in the parking lot = Total chaos in the description of blue print documents with endless disconnects, getting in the way of a smooth ride. Documentation is aged or not available at all. No index or cross references. The project plan has about as many holes as a noodle mesh. VISO as a process flow tool.

Mixed up and chaotic shelves = Abbrivations used that no one has a clue what they mean or worse titles and descriptions misleading. I worked for a company where aquisition was referring to purchasing. One company had 8 different meanings for one abbrivation. Another client asked me about "Bobj" and if I new about it. I said "no".
After google, I found out that BOBJ is a company and what he ment was "business objects". Never mind that in the course of our conversation I had shown him an excel demo using business objects. Of course he told his manager I wouldn't know anything about data conversion. Never mind I went to BC420 (LSMW) and possibly have a lot more conversions under my belly than many of my peers. Admitting that he used a wrong term is of course unthinkable. Another company made IT change the label "material" to "SKU" through out SAP, because this is what the users where used to.

Accountability and responsability = Asking for the impossible as mandatory success factor regardless of time and effort needed and when the shit hits the fan not having the balls to stand up for their decision, but to blame someone else. Ideally a contractor and obmitting the objections given by the contractor. For one client I had to invent a completely new pricing process. It could have been done using standard pricing, but the number of condition types would have exceeded any maintainable volume. Granted, not all possible combinations would have been used, but alas, you have to do the setup for it.

Price checks = Everything WITH the kitchen sink free of charge. Ideally cross-functional with modules that have nothing to do with each other at no cost. Consultant with age of 25 (perfect to bully around), 5 full life cycles, three languages and at least 20 years experience with MBA and SAP certification, never mind that those cost real money.

Rudeness = Putting the consultants in the worst possible office space with worn out desks and chairs, ensuring the noise level is close to a jet liner taking off and getting upset when focusing on a problem is close to impossible.
Futher wondering why the god damn fluctuation rate is high and constant change of consultants leads to delays.

Customer service = Expectation that a consultant deals with all the short comings of a shitty life with a smile and treats the client in a friendly manner, no matter the BS delivered, conflicting messages to deal with, possible personal constrains. And God help it, if any company would have a decent coffee machine.

So, the question is where does this attitude come from and what can be done about it?

Per my observation this happens in private and business life and I can't be the only one who observed this. I am completely the opposite person. I never mix up shelves, I always roll back the carts, I don't mind taking responsability and stand my ground, I politely wait until it is my time and I know that good things cost money and treat my guests and colleagues well.
In my opinion, Pepper Spray is underutilized as an effective tool for scope control
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby VLozano » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:50 am

@Bryson: ROFLMAO

BTW: I think Martin_US is, in fact, born German. If you think to call a Spaniard "Mexican" is an insult, to call a German "Spaniard" is pretty worse :lol:

Oh, and the deposit for marketplace trolleys are just to ensure they will be rolled. If you want to steal the trolley, you just must take it to your home and there recover your deposit :lol:

I think yours was a nice impersonation of S_C, who we all miss a lot... or we don't ;)
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Martin_US » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:39 am

So true VLozano,

but you also need to read a little between the lines.

Every American screams and yells about safety, yet the countless dents from shopping carts are acceptable.
It is only a very minor effort to put them back where they belong, even in the parking lot.

But what does it say about the consumer? I bought something and that gives me the right to leave chaos behind?
I can take as much merchandize off the shelves, open the boxes, make it unsaleable and leave it where ever I want, because I am a customer? I would think that is very disrespectful towards other consumers and the associates that have to keep order in the store.

But those are only a few examples. There are any number of others where you think 'total contradiction'.

Still, it begs the question why this happens. Are they simply not thinking, do they not care, is it provocation or frustration, where does this come from? Keep in mind, I am not only talking shopping carts here.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Craig » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:28 am

Wow..

You must be having a bad year there Martin! Or you're getting really cynical in your old age!

Thanks Vic and Bryson for sticking up for us!

Well, to tell you the truth Martin, you might have some good points. But I don't think they are all American in nature. Having worked on several international projects and been a guest of several EU countries, some for extended periods of time, I don't think the issues you have highlighted are unique to the US.

I tend to think you must frequent one of the bad Walmart stores a bit too much. Are you working at Best Buy per chance?

Frankly, like I tell my clients, you get what you pay for. You don't like my rate, there are cheaper guys out there. I tell my clients, you can't be both a specialty chemical company and low cost provider at the same time. You are either a low cost provider selling the cheapest product possible and giving the minimum service and choices available.... OR you are a premium, specialty chemical provider selling high quality, high service, higher margin product. If you try to do both, and be all to all people, you will eventually fail.

I'd say the same thing to you. I'd consider upgrading the quality of stores you frequent and work. If you work at Best Buy your customer is expecting the lowest price possible and in many cases will also be your lowest type of customer. You want good customers, find a higher end, locally owned computer business to work for.

If you don't want to deal with Walmart customers, don't work at a Walmart store!

Conversely, if don't want Walmart service, don't shop at Walmart stores.

Try a NiemanMarcus store, Lord & Taylor's, Tiffany's, etc..

Even Bryson knows you get what you pay for. If you want to get rolled and maybe bring something home that requires a Dr's visit you go to a cheap titty bar or cruise certain boulevards. If you want full service, all night, girl friend experience that includes a real massage and a woman with a clean health certificate that looks like she stepped out of a Victoria Secrets catalog, your going to pay a much different price.

Plus, if your treated differently, it could be your coming across as an indignant, self-centered, self-righteous, obnoxious, German guy. (BTW: I am of German heritage :P ). And of course we know how someone like that is going to get treated! :twisted:

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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Martin_US » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:15 am

Craig,

don't reduce my example to just retail.

Of course you have valid points and I have over drawn some examples for the purpose of 'drama' and 'attention'.

I was at one client some time ago and there was a mandatory class for everyone in that company: Intercultural Projects.

One thing I found extremely interesting and got stuck in my head is how different cultures do project work.
The example the trainer picked was American, German and Dutch. Would like to post the graphics, if I could.

At any rate, it illustrated the different approach to project work and was very telling. Kind of difficult to put the graphs into words, but at the core it showed on a time scale that Americans do it in steps. In all scenarious the target was defined, just the way to it not. So Americans do it in like steps. Take one step, take a break, define the next step, move on. The Dutch constantly seeking consensus as they go along, revalidating actions taken with their peers, ultimately getting them where they want, but exceeding the project time. Germans on the other hand do jack, until they have a complete picture of the entire project in all phases with all eventuallities taken into account.

I am not judging which is the better option because this has to do with culture.

Of course you are right that it also depends where you shop, but that may only change the degree to which you can observe this.

Walmart, BestBuy, Kmart etc would be drastic examples, but the same happens at other stores as well, only to a different degree.

I could have choosen airlines or hotels instead. Only the examples would have been different.

And no, this is no american bashing. On the upside, the standing in line works usually pretty well :)

My question is only where this comes from.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby VLozano » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:10 am

Martin, I've read between lines. Because that I told you there is not something unique for the US people. Since Rich blue-printed the wheel, the whole Mankind is "evolving" to a bunch of moronic selfish lazy reality-show watchers.
Maybe when you signed the acceptance tests for the first campfire you thought we will evolve to well-mannered, generous hardworking literates, but after the wheel and the fire some bastard invented the Gutenberg printer, and started the "sharing" thing. It meant sooner or later some bored guy would invent something to see in-action images, maybe adding sound to it, and it was needed just a little step to create the first reality show.

From there, the Mankind is doomed. Not only the USofAians (who I would add to the Mankind just because you have guns), but everybody.

If a empty-head nympho from a "***** Shore" tv show can earn a lot of money just by showing her tits and or lack of "human" intelligence, why our youngsters will try to understand why the Earth is spherical*?

If you are not Chuck Norris you will not be able to change it. I'm trying to do it just advicing my young daughter to not watch those shows when she'll growth... Wish me (her) luck.


* I wish I had not spoiled you, dinosaurs... the shape of the Earth was discovered in the ancient Egypt, if I'm not wrong (I'm not in the mood to wiki for it)... I supposed you've read the Alexandrian papers...
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Martin_US » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:20 am

Well,

maybe that's the point. The old farts haven't educated the younglings and by now it is too late.

Part of our business is always to validate models and to question them. That doesn't mean to shred them to pieces.
It only means to really get into the gist of it and make sense of it all.

This in turn may at times end with a recommendation of change and that change well argumented and documented.

So, seeing shortcomings, realizing them and then let the kids still watch the soaps, isn't a viable option.

If it is simply by leading with good example or sometimes turning off the TV under protest, letting it slide where obvious problems exist can't be a solution.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Craig » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:42 am

Martin,

Here's a blog I wrote a few years back in SCN:
http://scn.sap.com/community/erp/operat ... -processes

I actually talk about some cultural differences there.

Sooo.. I have to ask, since you pointed it out. You said that the Germans do jack until they have a complete picture of the project. Are you a person that does a lot of planning? I.e. a detailed appointment book, a planning session each morning, your daily task list and to-do's? All assigned to time blocks?

If you do, I totally envy that. I try and try but I am not real good at that. I wish I was better at it. Must be my American upbringing overcoming my German heritage!! :D

If anything, what I have found is that the older I get, the fewer significant differences I see in the various cultures. I.e. things that at the end of the day really impact the world. Every culture has their problems.

Martin_US wrote:Of course you are right that it also depends where you shop, but that may only change the degree to which you can observe this.

Walmart, BestBuy, Kmart etc would be drastic examples, but the same happens at other stores as well, only to a different degree.


Well degrees are important. Any place you pick is going to get the occasional bad customer or the bad employee. You can always run into them. (It's one of the reasons when I want to buy something expensive like a car I dress like a dirt bag and unshaven. Now I pretty much use the same salespeople over and over now so I don't do that much anymore. :twisted: )

I do think that in the US, (and carrying over to other countries as well), our expectations have been greatly reduced. We don't expect good service anymore so why should a company give it too us? We don't expect kids to behave a certain way so why should they? We don't expect our politicians to behave a certain way so why should they. (As a society anyway, not individually).

I'm very much into dogs and I train and handle a search dog. A dog trainer once said to me "How do you know what your dog can do if you've never asked it to do it?" Again an expectation. If I fully expect my dog to climb a ladder and climb back down, there is a good chance he will. If I never ask him to do it, there is no way he will.

Just like our kids. My son knew that college was expected of him since he was in first grade. It wasn't a choice for him to be capable of going. It was his choice, if he wanted to not go. But it wasn't his choice to have the ability to go. I expected that of him.

We are a society that is continuing to lower our expectations.

I attribute the beginnings of this to our "self-esteem" policies that first infiltrated the youth sports programs. Everyone got participation ribbons, many leagues stopped keeping score, everyone got to play equally. We wanted everyone to feel good. As a result, on average, I think everything got watered down.

Everyone can't be winners all the time. Life isn't fair. And it'll stomp and kick your ass when you're down. It's up to you to practice and succeed. To find a way to win and carve out your own niche on a team which may mean not being the star QB or clean up hitter. To recognize that there are people smarter, or stronger, or faster than you are. That was what I was taught growing up. But it's not what is taught today. As a result, most kids are not prepared for the world when they come out of school. :(

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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Martin_US » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:00 am

Actually,

I do plan my days, but I don't write everything down. I prefer (although that's no always possible) to start something only once I really understand the problem or at minimum have identified the possible pitfalls to be worked out.
I don't take many notes. Over the years my brain has been wired in a certain way. Not always to my advantage. i.e. I forget things I consider unimportant rather quickly.

In my time, I ran into a lot of projects where you look at a project plan and even without all the details, you instictively know where the red flags are. Part of this may very well be experience. But that is exactly what a client should draw from a consultant. "Look at this and tell me where the shit is going to hit the fan and what can be done to avoid that."

That question is not asked very often any more.

And yes, maybe part of it is this every political correct and let everyone be a winner. One should be able to tell anyone (in a polite way) what is bothering, where they are wrong (proof needed) and a solution to fix it. People however are less and less open dealing with well indented opposition. Being critical doesn't mean one commits murder. Being prooven wrong isn't the end of the world.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby VLozano » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:19 am

I want not to raise my daughter as a winner, but as a happy and educated woman. What does mean "to win" or "to success"? I love to play. I don't care about to lose or to win, it's just the game that counts. I'm used to meet "winners" in my online game sessions, and I don't like them. Usually a winner is (one or more of):
a) a cheater
b) a selfish rude person
c) an obsessed

I enjoy a lot more a defeat in a fair nice played game than a crushing victory where we did something unfair.

In the Martin's parking, a winner will not waste his precioussss time, my treassure, rolling the trolley. This Catalan loser does. A winner will press the vendor to be attended the first, this loser waits his turn patiently.

Respect, education, honesty... All those things that can be found in that word almost no one cares about: "honour"
We are losing them, because we don't care about them.

It's not our fault: a dumbass raises dumbasses. And they growth in number faster than educated people. We will lose in the long term. Luckily, the world will collapse because our politics are worse than them.
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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Craig » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:50 am

Vic,

What you described is a winner "at all costs". Cheating, lying etc.. I'm a big believer in Karma and that good guys actually do finish first. And to an extent, religious in a manner that what karma doesn't address here in this life, shall be addressed in the next life.

Winning at all costs should not be what sports competition should be about. Win or lose it must be done honorably.

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Re: Odd American Behavior?

Postby Martin_US » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:56 pm

Well Vic,

you got some of my points.

Why make it harder on your fellow people instead of beind a decent person?

I am with Craig, the bully will only have short lived success.

If you don't treat people as you would like to be treated, then don't blame others.

BUT STILL, why have people become this way?

I am sure we all had the stomp speeches like "I will give 150% for this project and if there is an issue, come right to me and I will take care of that." No eyes can roll that fast when hearing this. It's total BS. Still, hardly any project passes where you don't hear this. Once you get close to the impossible to meet deadline that all managers said was set in stone, it gets extended. What's to gain with that kind of behavior when everyone was clear months ago, that the dead line can never be met? This is not good leadership, to the contrary. You set up people to fail because the expectations are unrealistic and everyone knows it - yet the managers keep banging the drums.

That makes them look like fools.
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