Perspectives on french-german cooperation: chances and challenges

May 18th, 2021 French-German partnering event, network for Industry 4.0 and AI applied Artificial Intelligence organized by strong consortium DIZ, Allianz Industrie 4.0, Steinbeis 2i, bw-I, CyberForum and FZI. Introducing the program, there were two keynotes as special highlights of the event. The second keynote came from Axel Stabnau, board member of the Franco-German Business Club Upper Rhine (CAFA RSO) and years of experience as a “mediator” of both cultures. So he presented the necessary soft skills for those who want to work successfully with people from France and Germany.

hello to everyone !

I’m happy to speak about « PERSPECTIVES ON FRENCH-GERMAN COOPERATION – about Chances and Challenges » 

My name is Axel Stabnau, I’m French and German. I worked and lived in both countries and my job is to connect and to accelerate franco-german relations and businesses.

Before speaking about Artificial Intelligence, let me start the Event with HUMAN INTELLIGENCE.

Today we are speaking in english, a neutral way to communicate. Languages are the HEARABLE part of culture. A little bit like an Iceberg. 

French is a latin language as italian, spanish, portuguese or romanian. 

And German is a germanic language as english, dutch, danish or swedish. 

The sentences are different

The verb is at beginning in french and at the end of the sentence in german.

So you need to listen until the end of the sentence in german because meaning could change totally.

In french you understand the meaning faster so it is not unusual to be interrupted.

Many Feminine words in french are a masculine or neuter noun in german and vice versa

(Le programme, Das Programm – Die Industrie, l’industrie)

The words intonation are different  (For example my first name with only four letters AXEL)

And some words couldn’t be translated by a word and have to be descripted

(For example: Gemütlichkeit is convivialité in french but not only).

French and german are very different languages and different cultures.

The principal challenge on french-german collaboration is the communication. 

Because the Human « Softwares » are different. 

So let me give you some « API’s » to facilitate understanding and favour work together.

  • Germans have a DIRECT communication, oriented by TASK. 

So if a problem have to be resolved, we will speak about the problem … on direct way. 

Even if it may be unpleasant for the one or the other person, it doesn’t matter. 

For french guys, it is unusual because communication is indirect, PEOPLE oriented.

They feel attacked with such direct communication. Besides the content, the FORM is also important. Don’t forget, that french is a language of diplomacy. 

For communication with german guys, please don’t turn around and do not interpretation possibilities. BE STRAIGHT! Say clearly what you have to say on good and bad news. NO is a frequent word in german and open the way of discussion and argumentation.

  • EMOTIONS are in communication interpreted mostly different in France and Germany.    In France we like and need to FEEL the human…

In Germany, emotions control is required. So don’t be afraid if your french partner move his arms or start to be louder, he does not loose control and don’t be afraid if your german partner is unemotional and seems to be « cold » … he isn’t.

  • When we speak about punctuality, the time understanding is different from France to Germany. The reason is simple: French are polychronic and Germans are monochronic. To build strong personal relationships could take more time as projected, so delay of 15 minutes in France is normal. If you want to work with germans and to impress them, I give you their secret: plan to be at meeting 15 or 30 minutes before starting, they will appreciate it!
  • French like to work on several tasks at the same time. Germans consider time as linear. They appropriate time and place for everything and plan the day time slot by time slot. They don’t like interruptions, unexpected things and to waste time.
  • To optimize time, germans schedule workshops and meetings with discussion points. What allows to prepare answers and to make decisions during meeting.
  • By the way, in France we take a decision (prendre une decision) and in Germany we reach a decision (Entscheidung treffen). 

So WHY, you will ask me, french and german people should work together by so many communication and ways to work differencies? 

and my answer is: EXACTLY FOR THESE REASONS!

The different viewpoints allow a full comprehension and even better results. 

To work in an intercultural environment, open mind, enhances knowledge and accelerates improvment.

If we want to measure to the United States of America, China, Japan and South Korea, we have to play in the Champions League. Our values and goals are common, so let work together and build the best solutions.

The strengths of Germans and the strengths of French are complementary.

If we are aware of it and respect each other, we can use the best of everyone to build a dream team.

We love in France to discuss, to brainstorm and to explore ideas. That bring creativity. 

And if we don’t find a solution, we are adaptive and agile. In France we have a hidden improvisation weapon told: SYSTEME D … The solution is sometimes shaky, but the new idea could bring new other ideas, the way to the right solution. 

That are perfect qualities to explore, create and design.

Germans are secure oriented, they excel on time planning, organisation, process control and risk minimizing. The reputation of german engineering is well-established.

Perfect qualities for framework, deep development and improvment.

Naturally, we have also creative people in Germany and rigorous people in France. 

I didn’t want to make a french or german caricature, but to show tendencies by behaviors and ways to work.

By understanding each other and with kindness, we transform the cultural differences in levers of success! The different points of view and ideas could bring a lot of new ideas and great solutions. Alone you go faster and together we go further. 

Our richness in Europe is our complementarity, let it be our force to be stronger. 

I wish you a great partnering event! … and thank you for your attention.

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