In this article we will focus on gathering some observations from the experience of the QSense crew in working with Asian customers in the field of quality assurance in the production of batteries for electric cars.
The raging pandemic has slowed down the processes of global exchange of employees on local markets, but the issue of cross-cultural cooperation, whether face-to-face or remote, is still an open topic which poses a serious challenge for many of us.
In Poland, we are well acquainted with the work culture of various European nations, their specifics and requirements. However, due to geographical distance and language barriers, we are less familiar with organisations based on East Asian cultures.
We would like to avoid duplication or stereotyping, but most of the comments will be simplified personal assessments and observations. It is hoped that these few words will encourage cross-cultural cooperation in high technology.
In general, encountering new cultural norms in a business environment can pose a lot of problems. It is much better to be aware of them before starting cooperation than to experience culture shock that will overlap with current technical or business problems.
In QSense’s business, we have encountered several situations where we had to slightly change our previous habits in order to create a cooperation model tailored to the client’s real needs.
Let’s start with the most important general observation. Asians give the highest priority to their working lives, they consider work to be of paramount importance and often take precedence over everything else, including family life. You have to love your job, you have to love what you do. And if you love something, you obviously don’t count the time you spend on it, which means that overtime in Asian companies is required, it is a measure of respect for the work, but also for your colleagues and the boss. Therefore, when preparing to work with Asians, be prepared to spend an evening, weekend or public holiday showing our commitment.
Another thing to pay attention to is the way of speaking. We are leaving aside the language issue here, we are more concerned with the way of speaking. Asians very often speak with a raised voice, which we associate with conflict situations. This difference is extremely sensitive because, if the interlocutor is poorly prepared, it can lead to real conflict situations. Meanwhile, the raised voice of Asians may simply be a sign of preoccupation with the topic under discussion. An Asian man or woman with a greater degree of self-awareness may sometimes remark that the reason for her excitement is not the interlocutor but the situation under discussion. It is therefore advisable to take into account the dynamics of the conversation.
In our practice so far, we have also noticed that for Asians, meetings in a broader group are not so much about exchanging views as about conveying them. It is usually one person, usually at the top of the hierarchy, who provides comments or a vision of the situation. During such meetings, interfering and asking questions may not be considered an expression of commitment, but a challenge to authority. With questions it is sometimes better to wait until the end of the meeting and clarify your doubts face to face, rather than risk embarrassing the other party in public. Even in 1-to-1 conversations with Asians, we should take care not to interject while the other party is speaking, and a short pause is welcome before addressing the other party.
It is worth mentioning that Asians are becoming more and more familiar with Polish conditions. Sometimes you can meet people who speak Polish very well and understand Polish realities. Also at the level of people who are just starting their adventure with Poland we can see an effort to break down the intercultural barriers, which is extremely encouraging, because we are dealing with people who are proud of their culture and often (not without real reasons) convinced of its superiority.
Cultural differences and their themes are interesting in themselves. However, in the context of working with QSense clients, we came across another perhaps more interesting issue. In the context of transforming away from fossil fuels, the fight against air pollution and global warming, the development of electromobility and related technologies comes to the fore. Thanks to this cooperation, Qsense has the opportunity to contribute to ensuring the highest quality standards for electric car batteries.
The quality control carried out by an external company in this area is specific, very rarely reduced to standard sorting actions. Due to the complexity of the product, more advanced control methods are selected and a visual inspection alone is rare. Also specification concerns such parameters as voltage drop, resistance.
Battery modules have several critical characteristics that are directly related to the safety of the end user of the product, the car. Our task in broad perspective is to ensure safety of electric cars users and we are trying to spread such awareness in our organization.
Complexity of the product is connected with high requirements in the matter of selection of appropriate hardware, software and additional training of quality controllers. Good knowledge of hardware and software among the workforce is key to ensuring shipments of compliant product on time. This in turn necessitates an expanded training system, the use of new technologies such as virtual training, and investment in employees.
An important part of handling a quality control project in electromobility is how to report, collect and process data. If the customer does not provide a ready-made solution tailored to the process, other companies usually end up at using excel spreadsheet. At QSense, we have an exceptionally developed technology department that solves problems by creating dedicated IT solutions within the QWall brand. Depending on the client’s needs, we supplement the control process with software components created to meet the specific needs of the project. We provide complementary solutions, or the individual components needed to ensure proper data flow in the process.
If you would like to learn more about how we fight for the best quality of our customers’ products in a complex organisational context, please visit www.qsense.pl.