Geek Field Trip
By templedf on Jul 05, 2005
This morning was a little odd. We gathered up the whole office and went over to the Krones (pronounced like "Chronus") headquarters. Krones is an international manufacturer of bottling machinery, headquartered in Neutraubling, which is in the greater Regensburg area. We were given an hour long presentation about their market segment and their internal IT structure followed by a tour of their facilities. We saw all kinds of nifty machines for almost every aspect of bottling, from bottlers to labelers to bottle blowers. It was a very interesting tour, and they have a very nice cafeteria.
The thing that was odd was the fact that an entire software development team took half a day off work to tour a bottling plant. That's more than a man-week spent on a completely software-unrelated activity! I'm certainly not complaining, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my American brain around it.
I asked my coworkers to explain to me why we were there, and it took a little while for them to wrap their German brains around my failure to understand. The answer I eventually got was that in Germany it is common for teams of coworkers to take a day off every now and then to go do something fun together, kinda like the American company picnic (which is almost always on a weekend). For whatever reason, an entire day was never doable with this group, so the solution was to do half-day visits to interesting local companies. This morning was the adult equivalent of a field trip!
Like I said, I'm not complaining! They had several gigantic warehouses full of wonderful toys. I kept regretting that I didn't have a camera with me. Nonetheless, I still have trouble envisioning an American firm doing that. Perhaps it's because I came from sales, where any activity not related to making money is out of the question, and the motto is, "We'll continue to have daily three-hour meetings until you get back on goal!"