Germans believe that the time allotted to a decision should be determined by the nature of the decision. And not dictated by either internal or external pressures. But rather by the internal rhythm of the decision-making process. Germans believe that a good decision making process leads to good decisions.
In the American business context it is quite often better to make a suboptimal decision quickly, than to make a better decision too slow or even too late. Suboptimal decisions can be corrected. For Americans, a decision making process is almost a contradiction in terms. People, not processes, make decisions.
The American tendancy to move fast in order to achieve results quickly can become a source of confusion for Germans. They often have difficulty identifying a clear logic behind the actions taken. What Americans would term rapid response coupled with a high level of flexibility, their German colleagues would call Aktionismus – literally actionism – or nervous movement at the expense of thinking things through.
For Americans their German colleagues take too long to make decisions. They risk angering the customer, whether internal or external. Germans appear overly conservative. Their process discipline too rigid. At times in conflict with the purpose of the decision. It is as if the process were more important than the decision itself.
Advice to Germans
Move a bit in the direction of your American colleagues. Operate on the assumption that you have less time at your disposal to make a good decision. Then base your decision making speed on the time needs of whoever benefits from your decision, of whoever is the receiver of your decision making deliverable. In the U.S. business context you can always revise a suboptimal decision.
Advice to Americans
Be guarded against the cliché that Germans are slow in making decisions. Take a closer look. Their decisions include several sub-decisions.
Your German colleagues will allow you more time to make a decision. Use the additional time wisely. However, when you perceive the need to decide quickly, inform your German colleagues why this is so and how a quick decision, if later proven to be suboptimal, can be corrected.