I want to start this blog entry by retelling a current encounter I had:
Due to the fact that we have recently decided that a longer presence of mine than the usual fully packed 1 – 2 week business trip is appropriate at this moment in time, I had the pleasure to deal with the fascinating bureaucracy that surrounds the VISA application process (probably of any country in this world). At this point I would like to mention that a simple two weeks, short entry VISA is easy to obtain for Germans (best pre-applied through an Iranian person or entity, in order to avoid unlikely, but possible rejection on arrival), to be issued upon arrival at Tehran airport.
For that purpose I was kindly told by our ILIA Corporation Iran office to prepare four things, which had been double and triple checked through our rigorous, process driven attitude, which is seldom to be seen in Iran I might add:
- Be at the consulate on this specific date, at this specific time (as Germans do, I had geared my travel plans towards this)
- Bring three passport pictures, and two filled out forms, in order to obtain your one year work VISA
- Take a credit card, as that is the only accepted payment method
- The VISA will cost EUR 70
On the way to the consulate I prepared myself and my mind for the fact that something was going to go wrong, nonetheless, I worked hard on going into this with a positive attitude. This is where it becomes hard for a German – we do not like it when things are not under our control, thus we hate uncertainty. German style is to prepare in advance for anything that could go wrong so that you can prevent it from happening, but how do you do this if you do not know what could go wrong?
Sure enough the consulate was closed on this day when I arrived (something I really did not expect). Our office had checked several times with a person there, but probably they had forgotten that on that day was a special religious festival – probably it was too far in advance.
Some guard told me that he is sure that it will be open the next day. Ok, no problem, I will just come by again the next day (trying to calm the inpatient German within me) – the cool air outside helped.
On my way the next day I tell myself to stay calm, and I work hard on not thinking about what else could go wrong, although I know that something will go wrong – but what?
Welcome uncertainty to our perfectly functioning, process driven world, where a train that is ten minutes late makes people go nuts (believe me I have seen it in Germany) and immediately strategize about where they can complain to receive a refund.
I arrive and the consulate is open, and against my expectation there is no long queue. I arrive at the counter, and the first thing I am told is that I am not at the right consulate. After some chatting it is said that my VISA is there, but that it is only valid for a month. Ok, so can I take it now? Yes, but that costs EUR 130. OK, no problem, here are my three pictures and two filled out form. No need, we only need one of each. Great, can I pay with my credit card then? Sorry, but we do not accept credit cards…
Within 5 minutes all previously double and triple checked assumptions are void – it makes me feel at unease, as I do not have this innate relationship to uncertainty. Stupidly I remark that the process was not described as such to me. The short answer to this is why I did not check more thoroughly by the nice gentleman behind the counter.
When I swallow my natural resistance towards this remark (I am correct, I checked before the accurate German shouts within me) things go really fast – within 30 minutes the VISA is in my passport (another paradox, things sometimes work much faster or impossible achievements can be realized in less organized systems).
I have lived in many countries (including China and now Iran), and I can tell you that a German will probably never be able to deal with the uncertainty well, due to DNA and brain wiring. You can only start stepping back and relaxing, otherwise you will die of a heart attack soon. However, even if I try as hard as I can, at times it gets to me and I have to reset myself.
No process in place leads to miscommunication and uncertainty – but paradoxically, most of the time things still work out somehow.
- Enjoy the ride, because you have no influence on where it is taking you – as my Iranian partner always says: You have the right to be upset (the implicit second part of the sentence is: But do not expect that the right to be upset changes the way it will play out)
Do the German readers understand what I am writing about here?
Written by ILIA Corporation Managing and Founding Partner Marlon D. Jünemann