This is amusing

It might be one of Germany’s biggest businesses – but Volkswagen clearly believes British is best.
The car giant, which includes Audi, has announced it is switching its official language to English in a bid to be more welcoming.
Bosses say the move is designed to improve recruitment as some prospective employees are put off by the need to understand their home nation’s language.

Mate of mine here does management training for Skoda, owned of course by VW. And he’s been pitching the idea of me doing a few day’s training, obviously in English, not Czech. We actually did a day for a supplier a few months back and they really liked it (my idea was stolen from Corrigan – WWI military, Germans had trained troops, complex tactics, lots of delegation, Russians idiot conscripts and no delegation at all, entirely centralised orders. British in 1916 simple troops, simple tactics, by 1918, trained troops, complex tactics – how you manage your workforce, what you delegate or don’t, is going to depend on how well they’re trained. Plus mixing in Coase on the Theory of the Firm to talk about interfaces, when to delegate, when not to etc.).

So, if VW goes entirely English, will Skoda follow and will we then get the work?

27 comments on “This is amusing

  1. On language, WWI and Skoda: it took much longer to train officers for the Indian Army than for the British Army because of the need to learn the languages of their troops. This meant that loss of officers in the Indian Army was particularly burdensome.

    It also meant that when Kitchener nicked 500 officers from the Indian Army for the British Army the government in India was considerably pissed off.

  2. It’s a bit like the difference in footwear manufacture between the UK (when it was still there) and Asia today.

    Working in the shoe factories back home was a skilled job and pretty well paid after significant training. Then the Taiwanese broke up each process into many small and simple tasks so they could employ an army of borderline retarded Chinese peasants to do it for peanuts.

  3. To first approximation, no-one speaks Czech, so the impetus for Skoda to switch would be even stronger.

  4. Not sure I’m following you, Tim.

    You’re suggesting Skoda adopt creeping barrages as a sales technique?

  5. English as a company language works well for Airbus, much (as you can imagine) to the delight of the French component 🙂

  6. I don’t know about the car industry but you might want to try the telecoms industry. From my experience they were English language at the technical and management levels the exception of legacy documents. Most of them had/have foreign investors and always English is the common language.

  7. Sounds like more German self-hate to me.

    Increasingly it seems likely that some sort of military intervention would be a good idea in both Germany and Sweden–both worst affected by CM madness.

    Once before the world did nothing while German internal politics went haywire and the world paid a terrible price for it.

    A timely and precise incursion into both nations aimed at the neutralisation of their CM boss class and the handing of control to the disempowered half of the country that hasn’t lost their marbles might be a very good thing.

    It would also put the fear of God into the rest of the Euro-trash govts who are going wrong but not with the same drive as the Germans/Swedes–such as the Danes, Italians etc.

    You could be an advance scout under cover of your commercial activities Tim.

  8. VW will never go fully English, but command of English is already a non-negotiable requirement for everyone above the level of toilet cleaner. Surprised if that isn’t the case at Skoda as well.

  9. Aah yes, the famous German military “Auftragstechnik” (“Herr Leutenant, your task is to take that farmhouse between 1900h and 2100h. You have your platoon and these 3 mortars in support. Hup to it”) vs the traditional British army way of “Lieutenant, you will take your platoon and advance to that woodline there, where you will wait. At 1903 precisely, these 3 mortars will open fire. Once their fire is effective, you will leave 1 section in fire support and advance to contact over this ground with the other 2 sections and take the farmhouse”.

    I exaggerate, but not *that* much.

  10. And as for English as a working language, the Belgian group I used to work for a satellite of used English to avoid the atrocious language politics between the Flemish and Walloons.

    Which didn’t exactly please the Parisians much, either.

  11. abacab,

    Not quite, an Army O Group (Orders Group) is a descending set of objectives and outline plans. A Division will be given an objective and outline plans and also be told what their left and right flanks objectives and outline plans are. The Div makes more detailed plans and then briefs each Brigade on their outline plans and objectives, outlining left and right flank objectives and plans, who then go away and do their detailed plans. All the way down to individual sections.

    Timing is important because you really do not want to be messing about when artillery and aircraft start lobbing their munitions around, straying off piste and getting in each other’s way or even getting too far ahead or behind, hence the need for start lines and need for intermediate objectives ie don’t go past the farmhouse till we’re sure the artillery regiment over there has been taken out by that Div.

    Of course all bets are off at first contact with the enemy, and that’s when you find out how well your forces have been trained from bottom to top, especially as command structures start to be taken out.

    Which gives me an opportunity to tell one of my favourite war stories. Pull up a sand bag and let me start swinging a light. We were doing electronic warfare in the Falkland and so had loads of radios and tape recorders. In the final assaultthe Scots Guards got bogged down and the Paras (I think, might have been Marines) on their flank started getting ahead and their was a danger they would be outflanked by the Argies – I wish ‘d recorded it all because the message went down to the SGs: “The Brigadier says if the SGs don’t get a move on he’ll personally come down there and kick their arses”.

  12. Skoda and WWI: Skoda built some of the monster artillery that was used to destroy the Belgian forts. Their guns weren’t as big as the biggest Krupp guns but they were superior in that they were much more easily transported and used.

  13. When I worked at (blank) the well known German engineering company, the firm issued little notes that the staff could stick on the desks for telephone calls:

    “Good morning/afternoon, my name is …., I would like to speak with…”

    I thought this an excellent idea and made my own with some useful phrases

    “Hande hoch!”
    “Kamerad!”
    “Ergeben Sie sich!”

  14. Of course all bets are off at first contact with the enemy, and that’s when you find out how well your forces have been trained from bottom to top, especially as command structures start to be taken out.

    If you want to read a fabulous, geek-level account of this, read The Clay Pigeons of St. Lô, written by an American battalion commander after the Normandy landings.

  15. Some minor pendantry: it is “Auftragstaktik”, not “technik”.

    In my experience, the stupider the commanding officer, the more detailed the instructions.

  16. I spent over a year working in Finland for a Finnish lift company.

    Although the company language was English and most engineers spoke English the language on the ground was most definitely Suomi.

    It was ridiculous that various people likely to come into contact with foreigners such as the onsite bank tellers or IT Support seemed to be recruited specially because they didn’t speak English. Also all staff emails were often in Finnish even ones warning of changes affecting everyone or of impending bad weather.

  17. VW have come to the correct conclusion that English is now the de facto technical language, there are more technical people who can speak English than can’t.

    English is the Borg language of the future and all the rest will be assimilated or become irrelevant and die out.

    There will be local resistance (mostly for factional political reasons) and expensive and invasive attempts to force people to use these dying languages (like Welsh) but eventually they will just end up as historical oddities.

  18. Yeah agreed that book looks like it has promise.

    I like a bit of mil-hist but too often it can be endlessly dry accounts of divisions moving around like so many chess pieces. Antony Beevor I found to be pretty bad at this. Everyone raved about his Stalingrad book which I found unbearably dull.

  19. Bart,

    I was referring to Tim Newman’s recommendation which was written by Glover St John and appears to have good reviews.

    Tim W referred to Maj John Gordon Harvey Corrigan (retd.), MBE, a former British soldier and historical writer and broadcaster who has written many books. The WW1 book Tim W refers to is Blood, Sweat and Poppycock which is excellent and only controversial if you want to believe the myths about lions led by donkeys etc.

    His book on the WW2 book, Blood, Sweat and Arrogance is equally controversial if you want to believe all the WW2 myths, especially Churchill’s role in the run up to it.

  20. re: Corrigan’s Blood, Sweat and Poppycock.
    On the Great War Forum there were 60-odd messages about it. Some were favourable but the majority were negative.

  21. In the late 90s I worked for a French global insurer and their official language was English. In the early noughties I had a gig doing TCP/IP training worldwide for Nokia – all in English. I was seriously impressed that I could take an audience of Italian telecoms engineers (the sort of guys you might see up a pole fixing a phone fault), and lecture them for 2/3 days on a reasonably technical subject in English. Try that with BT engineers in (say) French, and see how far you get!

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