Help! What can we do?


“Germans love processes and procedures and rules. Our American point of view is: “Processes are man-made. We can change them.”

Customers in the U.S. find it difficult to do business with us as a German company: “Too inflexible.” We are constantly debating internal business rules. We struggle to get things done.

We can’t get them to change. They always find a way to logically disprove what we are trying to do or they keep pushing for more data. It’s like a legal battle. They wear us down.

Help! What can we do?”


“constantly debating internal business rules”, I have heard this complaint hundreds of times over the years. If it is any consolation, you are not alone and the issue is not unique to you.

The fact is that Americans and Germans have, in many ways, very different approaches to processes. And keep in mind that processes are the – formal and informal – ways in which the work is done. Processes, and procedures and so-called desktop procedures, are the rules which govern the running of the company, of any company. This is serious stuff.

Folks – Americans and all other cultures working in a German company – your German colleagues take processes seriousy, very seriously, as they should. Processes define how the work is done. How the work is done, in turn, determines results, business results, whether you will all be able to pay your bills month in and month out.

Continue to engage with each other. Be patient with one another. Most importantly, before you enter into intense internal discussions and debates about which processes need to be modified, in which ways, and why, be sure to first understand where you differ in terms of your respective approaches to processes, your process philosophies.

Go to the links above. Read. Reflect. Then discuss. Together as colleagues. Sie sitzen in dem selben Boot. You’re sitting in the same boat.

Help! What can we do?