This post was originally published in 2013. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
For an entire week, six SMA team members from Colorado switched workplaces to Niestetal, about 5,000 miles away from their home in Denver.
It goes without saying that there is usually a good reason for a business trip that long, and this was no exception. Our US team members had been invited to a joint workshop by the SMA Logistics and Purchasing departments as part of a large logistics project that SMA is planning to implement at other locations as well. More specifically, the undertaking consists of various subprojects that are intended to improve our logistics performance and render all associated costs more transparent.
Accordingly, our visitors spent the week at various departments in order to experience a number of processes and projects on site and exchange knowledge and experiences. If one thing was clear from the start, it was this: Our German SMA team members were about to see their personal English skills seriously put to the test.
Underway in northern Hesse
Then again, as everyone knows, fun follows after work. Outings at night and visits to a number of restaurants gave everyone a more relaxed environment in which to get to know each other better, not to mention reinforce some of the world’s most famous clichés regarding German cuisine and culture. Which ones, you ask? Well, let’s put it this way: The group got to spend a night eating schnitzel and drinking beer while surrounded by wood benches and dirndls. In addition, a tour through the metropolis of northern Hesse provided them with the opportunity to learn more about the history of Kassel, see the imposing Hercules monument, and last, but not least, learn the difference between a Kasselaner (someone who was born in Kassel but whose parents are from elsewhere) and a Kasseläner (someone who was born in Kassel and whose parents, at the very least, were also born in Kassel).
A week later
Before anyone noticed, the week had already come to an end, and in order to round off the experience, everyone got together and discussed the results and impressions from the five days that the US team had spent in Niestetal. Looking back, it was a very successful workshop overall. Not only did it give us a chance to get to know SMA team members from across the pond personally and learn more about how they work, but it also laid a solid foundation for effective and friendly teamwork in the future.