Persuade via process

“I’ve always been baffled by how Germans can attempt to persuade by referring to processes and certificates. That is certainly a cultural issue which even after 14 years I’m not willing to accept.”

You are baffled. When Germans refer to processes and certificates it does not persuade you. Why do Germans persuade with processes and certificates?

If a German brings the topic of processes into the conversation then that conversation is about how something should be done.

A decision has been made. Something should be done. It’s about the How. So the next decision is how to do that something.

Germans believe very strongly in processes. Yes, there are many bureaucratic processes in Germany. Just as there are in the U.S.

But when Germans talk about processes, they mean not only literally „how the work should be done“, but also in a more fundamental sense that how you do the work determines the results, the output, whether you reach your goal or not.

Process and results (of that process) are two sides of the same coin. They are inseparable. To talk about outcomes (results) means to talk about process.

When Germans talk about their processes, they are saying: „We’ve done this before. Many times. We have a way of doing. It has proven itself. Please allow us to explain to you how we would do this.“

Certificates are important in Germany. They represent the way in which Germans say: „See this person? She or he is capable of doing this task. They have been trained and tested. We, the organization which granted this certificate, are experts in this area. We know the material, and we know how to impart it to others.“

Now, as in any country, one can question the organizations granting certificates, and therefore question the person holding the certificate.

And although we at CI have not yet analyzed this aspect of German business culture – how Germans define, develop and certify competence – anyone with experience working with Germans knows that they are a very capable people, knows that they have a very successful educational and technical training system, and knows that their duale Bildungssystem has been one of the keys to their success.

When a German presents their certificate, for example as a Meister (literally Master) in any technical or artisan trade, or they present their diploma as an engineer, chemist, economist, you can be very sure that they are that they know how to do the job, as they were trained to do it.

The process in the German context signals: „This is the best way to do it.“ The certificate signals: „And I know how to execute this process.“

Both of these, of course, from the German perspective.