2012. USA. The PBS Newshour. During the European debt crisis. About two great German Mittelstand companies, small- to medium-sized companies.
Elon Musk wanted the factory in Germany. Why? Great automobile culture. Largest economy in Europe. Central geographic location. And, perhaps most importantly, great engineers. It makes you wonder what Henry Ford would have thought of this.
“This might just be the coolest car related video ever made. I can just imagine the person in the production meeting that suggested this and you just know when Elon heard about it he was like ‘Yep that’s sick’.”
“Tesla makes the best car commercials without making car commercials.”
“One of the best process walkthroughs I have ever seen. Amazing footage. Amazing piloting. Amazing process. Well done!”
“I’m a Tesla employee in Berlin and I was there on our ceremonial day. I can say that I saw with my bare eyes the guy who is controlling the drone. He has some amazing skills, so this video is made by him and its not fake. Cheers!”
“From the German Autobahn to the US Interstate System, der Führerschein or driver’s license – over the past few years we have done a LOT of driving in both Germany and the United States.
Although the US Highway System was modeled after the German Autobahn, you might find some surprising differences. Come ride along with us as we roam the roads of both countries!”
Very helpful, and funny, comments. From Germans. Explaining their logic:
“Germany: The problem that you cannot see the traffic light clearly when you are in the front row is resolved by the fact that the car behind you immediately honks when you are not driving when the traffic light changes to green :-)”
“The main reason why traffic lights in Germany are on your side of the crossing is clarity. Germany with its old town centers has many very irregularly shaped crossings, and a traffic light at the opposite side can not easily be attributed to a certain lane or even a road. When the first traffic lights were introduced in the 1920s, Germany experimented with the placement of the traffic lights on the opposite side or hanging down from cables spanned across the crossing. In the 1950s, all those installations were removed due to constant confusion of drivers.”
“Turning right on red lights is not often used in Germany due to pedestrian and bicycling traffic. When you are waiting on a crossing, chances are high that you not only have to watch out for car traffic, but also for pedestrians and other traffic you don’t regularly have in the U.S.. Thus in Germany, turning right on red lights is decided on a case-by-case base.”
“My instructor in Germany told me early on: “You are behind the wheel, you are handling a weapon.” This stuck with me.”
“About the driver’s license: there is a 40% fail rate on both the theoretical and practical exams here in Germany, which says a lot about the quality of the drivers the government is striving for. As I tell my kids: Driving is easy. Being a driver is not.”
Want to know the why for a culture’s behavior? Simply ask them.
From the New York Times – 15 September 2021: “The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff twice called his Chinese counterpart in the final months of the Trump administration to reassure him that Donald J. Trump had no plans to attack China in an effort to remain in power and that the United States was not collapsing, according to ‘Peril,’ a new book by the Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.”
The NYTimes continued: “After speaking to Ms. Pelosi, General Milley convened a meeting in a war room at the Pentagon with the military’s top commanders, telling them that he wanted to go over the longstanding procedures for launching a nuclear weapon. The general reminded the commanders that only the president could order such a strike and that General Milley needed to be directly involved.
‘If you get calls,’ General Milley said, ‘no matter who they’re from, there’s a process here, there’s a procedure. No matter what you’re told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure. You’ve got to make sure that the right people are on the net.’
The general added: ‘The strict procedures are explicitly designed to avoid inadvertent mistakes or accident or nefarious, unintentional, illegal, immoral, unethical launching of the world’s most dangerous weapons.’
Then, he went around the room and asked each officer to confirm that they understood what he was saying.”
But, wait, how does General Milley distinguish between what is a process and what is a procedure? They are not the same.
1. Non-elected government officials. Administrative policy-making group. 2. Specialization of functions, adherence to fixed rules, hierarchy of authority. 3.A system of administration marked by officialism, red-tape and proliferation. From French bureaucratie: bureau desk and –cratie a kind of government. (MerriamWebster)
Ever heard of Max Weber (1864-1920)? He was a German sociologist, historian, jurist and political economist. Weber is among the most important theorists on the development of modern Western society. he saw himself not as a sociologist, but as an historian. What did Weber write about bureaucracy:
That it constitutes the most efficient and rational way to organize human activity. Bureaucracy means systematic processes and organized hierarchies, which are necessary to: maintain order, maximize efficiency, and eliminate favoritism.
Germans believe that processes — how the work is done — is the key to success. Americans, however, favor relationships, or how to gain and retain customers.
By tradition, Germany is more a culture of artisans (Handwerkerkultur) than of traders (Händlerkultur). The Germans have always made things. And they believe that process — how the work is done — is the key to success. Good processes lead to good products, bad processes to bad ones.
One well-known German manager, Klaus-Hardy Mühdeck, the CIO of ThyssenKrupp, is even nicknamed the “process pope” and has changed his title to Chief Process Officer. Because processes govern the internal workings of a company, whoever has the say over process has the say over the company. Process is power. Germans want the power.
Frederick Taylor was an American engineer from Philadelphia whose studies in the early 20th century had great influence on American industrial processes. His Principles of Scientific Management focused process standardization, systematic training and the definition of roles and responsibilities. It led to the term Taylorism.
In 1975, Gary Dahl, a freelance copywriter, bought several smooth Mexican beach stones and began selling them in the United States as “pet rocks.” But what was initially meant as a joke soon became what Newsweek called “one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever.”
Within a few months, Dahl had sold over 1.5 million rocks. He was a guest on The Tonight Show, and at one point Gary was selling approximately 6,000 rocks per day.
The reason for his success was largely due to marketing: every pet rock came in a carrying case (with air holes), nestled on a bed of straw. Additionally, the purchase of a pet rock also bought its new owner a manual on the care, feeding, and house training of their new pet. Other factors, especially processes, were of very little importance in driving this pet trend.
Customer reviews can make or break a company in the US. Especially now that the internet gives customers a way to instantly compliment or complain about service (and to make sure that their opinion is available for anyone to see) one good or bad review can drastically change the number of customers a company has.
In 2012, after Brandon Cook from New Hampshire posted a Facebook story about a Panera manager named Sue making a special order of clam chowder for his grandmother and giving her a free box of cookies as well. The restaurant became much more popular. Several people who would not otherwise have eaten at this restaurant went there, and commented about it online. Some of the Facebook comments that people made were:
Cyrus Twirpwhirler: “My family is eating at Panera tonight because of this story. Way to go Sue and Panera! Snow Case: That is so cool, I’m a customer already, but I like them even more now. Daniel Julian: That is so cool!!! Have to visit Panera soon.”