Anyone who works for a Dutch company or has a lot of Dutch colleagues will have noticed that the Dutch love their meetings. There are meetings after meetings after meetings, meetings to decide when a meeting will take place, meetings to discuss what was discussed at previous meetings and so on.
You can’t tell the Dutch what to do (well you can but the chances are that they won’t listen). Many managers from other cultures leading Dutch teams have huge issues with this. They think; this is what I/the board have decided, I’ll tell the team, they can implement it. But it doesn’t work like that. YOU may have decided what YOU think is best, but the team hasn’t. Nothing will happen until the issue has gone through the whole meeting/discussion/everyone gets their say/consensus decision process.
I’ve heard many complain of its inefficiency, but is it really that inefficient?? Yes it is time consuming and different from many other cultures but looking at the broader picture; are the Dutch less efficient that other cultures? Many would argue the opposite. It takes time to reach a decision, but once a decision has been reached and is agreed by all it won’t change. On the other hand if you force a decision you may find people coming up with all kinds of reasons for not being able to implement it. Hence more meetings and discussions.
You can’t change a culture so there’s no point in fighting it. You need to go along with it, nudging and guiding as you go if you’re a manager, working on your patience skills if you’re either a manager or subordinate. Try and see it from a Dutch perspective, it’s just a different way of doing things. You never know, you may even get into it and if not bring along a notepad and pen and practice your doodling skills!