Just trust the system


“In the U.S. market everything is done in a hurry. Shipments come from Germany. We in the U.S. want to know when the shipment will arrive. Germany: “I did my part, can’t help you.”

We have to chase down the shipment. Where is it in the process? Our minds explode. Germany: “Just trust the system.” U.S.: “That is not an answer for us. Please, show me where it is in the process.”

How can we get our colleagues in Germany to respond more quickly to our needs?”


“Just trust the system” is the German way of saying: “Relax. Calm down. We’re working on it. Our internal processes function well.” American minds explode. It’s true. Those are not legitimate responses for Americans. Why?

Because German processes – the system – don’t work, don’t deliver results, don’t get shipments out in a timely manner? Maybe. But maybe not.

I’ll never tire of writing that Germany is the fourth-largest economy in the world, is the size of the US state Montana, and has only eighty million people. Which means that Germans do get shipments out, and on-time.

So, what’s at play here?

Well, possibly in this German company, in a particular division, the system is not delivering, cannot be trusted. Not all German companies, and not all divisions within German companies, are so-called hidden champions. Some, perhaps more than some, are simply slow, unresponsive, and bureacratic. “Our minds explode.”

But wait, it could also be that Americans don’t place much trust in processes. Relying on a process in crunch-time is never an option. Wait, what does that say about American processes?

And let’s keep in mind that cultures – i.e. USA and Germany – often have a different understanding of what urgent means.