Vremea trece, Vremea vine "time goes by, time comes in" or the Romanian sense of time.
GRAB IT NOW! TOMORROW COULD BE TOO LATE!
Throughout its two millennia of ruthless history, the Romanian people learned to accept that their accomplishments could be destroyed at any time. As a consequence, long-term planning was useless. More recently, the adverse reaction created by the infamous communist lies called "the glorious five-year plans", along with the current chaotic on-going transition toward profit oriented business, naturally has led to a very short-term orientation in private and organizational life.
WHEN THE DOOR OPENS, PRIORITIES VANISH... AND IT OPENS OFTEN!
Influenced by traditions, favorable climate, and readily accessible natural resources, people believed that there was no need to rush in order to reach objectives and deadlines (or even that there was need of objectives and deadlines). "Tomorrow is another day…". Procrastination, combined with lack of strategic planning skills, led to perpetual crisis management. Furthermore, relationships and interpersonal transactions are always more important than plans and deadlines. ...and they take time!
RELAX! TIME IS PLENTIFUL.
Despite the present focus on performance, many people don't really yet understand the importance of time for the success of their companies. For them, time is still cyclical and indestructibly linked with the rhythms of Mother Nature and not with the rhythms of business. Vremea trece, Vremea vine...
GLORIOUS PAST AND BLASTED PRESENT... AS FOR THE FUTURE, MAY GOD HELP US!
The past has always been seen as better than the present. For the present, we have to manage somehow... and stay alive until tomorrow. Tomorrow, who knows? So why plan anything? Someone up there will take care of us!
Two mythical symbols are characteristic to the Romanian people: "the sign of the Wolf", according to which they were predestined to wars, invasions, and emigrations plus the "sign of the Lamb", or the acceptance of faith not as a personal event but as a deep sacramental mystery. The consequence was a feeling of detachment from present events and living in a world of myths, legends, and archetypes.
In such a world, where Life is synchronized with the rhythms of nature, time is reversible, cyclical, and sacred (the myth of the eternal return). People are magical because they are immersed in transcendental time: Time, in the Western sense, doesn't exist! This perspective has helped the Romanians cope with the countless catastrophes they have endured for more than two thousand years because they were condemned by history to suffer frequent invasions by powerful imperialistic neighbors. Time and again, despite their sacrifices and accomplishments, their heroism (the Wolf) and patient hard work (the Lamb), this situation could not be changed. The most effective response to such a destiny, so often hostile and tragic, was to escape into an otherworldly spiritual creation.
Don't preach to the Romanian people about long-term orientation. Rather, patiently work with them in transforming their visions, missions, objectives, and long- term plans into "new spiritual creations" that they can believe. If you help them do this, they will buy in with total dedication.
Don't neglect relationships in favor of plans. Leverage both because, after all, relationships could be powerful competitive advantages. Try to educate people about the importance of deadlines within the larger picture of the organization. They need to know WHY? If they understand why, they can better accept the rhythms of the modern business. Also, they need to be empowered and they need ownership of their work. This way, they will learn to take responsibilities and to plan for tomorrow as if tomorrow will actually come and really count.
Managing Institutional Change in the Science and Technology Systems of Eastern Europe and East Africa by J. Chataway and T. Hewitt, Development in Practice. Vol. 9. No. 1&2., February, 1999.
The Myth of the Eternal Return by Mircea Eliade, Pantheon Books. 1954;
Zalmoxis: The Vanishing God by Mircea Eliade, The University of Chicago Press, 1972.
By Carmen Aida Hutu, a Romanian academic and consultant in Corporate Culture and Organization Development. Her recent book, Culture, Change, Competition: The Case of Technology Transfer in Romanian Companies, ("Economica" Publishers, 2003) won The Most Inciting Book of the Year 2003 Award by The General Association of Romanian Economists. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
World Culture Tips editor, Gary M. Wederspahn, is a leading intercultural business consultant, trainer, coach, speaker, and writer. His book, Intercultural Services: A Worldwide Buyer's Guide and Sourcebook, is available from Butterworth Heinemann publishing company and from Amazon.com.
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