Heder Vahetzi App as a Metaphor for Israeli Business Culture
The mobile app “Heder Vahetzi” (One and a Half Rooms), based on an animated segment of the satirical Israeli entertainment show “Eretz Nehederet” (A Wonderful Country), provides a marvelous example of Israeli intensity and constant change.
The segment and the app deal with the life of a young bachelor and interaction with objects in his home. The app targets Hebrew-speaking players, and for a country with 8.5 million residents, has been quite a success in that over 800,000 users have already downloaded it in the short time since it was launched.
Link for iPhone users: https://itunes.apple.com/il/app/hdr-whzy/id1018759550?mt=8
Link for Android users: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.companyname.RoomAndHalf
The app contains a number of stages that the player has to get through quickly. The player is asked to help Shuli, a single Tel-Avivian, in various tasks. For example, waking up Shuli on time, while his alarm clock is hidden behind a pigeon; guiding the robotic cleaner to avoid vacuuming broken glass; catching pieces of toast flying out of the toaster; remembering the order of the products on the refrigerator shelf; and getting through 10 other fast stages that are both cool and funny.
(Wake up Shuli at 7:00 a.m.)
You get three tries (represented by hearts) in each round of the game. Every time you pass or fail a stage, the hearts showing how many tries you have left react in a chorus, using slang words, humor and sounds taken from popular Israeli culture.
For instance, when you successfully complete a task, the chorus sings out phrases meaning things like “You stud,” “What a star” and “You’ve got the genes of a scientist”… And when you fail: “What a loser,” “I expected more from you” and “Let’s do this again but better”…
(Help Shuli remember what’s in his refrigerator)
Most leading apps, such as Temple Run (a 3D game developed by Imangi Studios in Washington) or King’s Candy Crush, use gamification mechanisms that allow the player to learn the rules of the game while using the app and gradually advancing from easy to more challenging stages.
In the Israeli app Heder Vahetzi, there’s really only one easy stage, and then you advance almost immediately to more difficult stages. No preparation or learning takes place or is even possible. Everything is basically intense and fast from the get-go. You just jump in and immediately have to perform the tasks. Other surprising stages come along the way, with amusing figures who try to make your life harder.
The Heder Vahetzi app aptly represents the fast, intense Israeli society and business culture. In the business realm, however, people from other cultures find this Israeli conduct less amusing and sometimes also unprofessional. At a business meeting with Israelis, people tend to jump around from one subject to another, ask a lot of questions and cut each other off in mid-sentence. Some Israelis will suddenly exit and reenter the room during a meeting; some will go off for a planned five-minute break and come back after 15 minutes or more. Sentences in Hebrew will be interjected here and there before reverting to English. Anything goes…you have to expect the unexpected.
Adapting an app like this to the international market would require many changes, since at present it is heavily based on local Israeli culture. Meanwhile, Israelis tremendously enjoy the Heder Vahetzi app. I believe that people around the world could use it as a first step in preparing themselves for their first trip to Israel or for dealing with the Israeli business culture.
More about the Israeli business culture can be found in the book Israeli Business Culture, available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/9659250401/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
This practical book combines background information with real-life anecdotes and recommendations for good cross-cultural communication.
Read more about the author of the book and the blog, Osnat Lautman, and the services offered by OLM Consulting, at www.olm-consulting.com.