Germans believe that a plan can only serve its purpose if you stick to it. “Why make a plan if you don’t intend to execute on it?”
Americans believe that a plan should be flexible. If the plan, or aspects of it, are not working make the necessary changes. “Why execute on a plan that is not working?”
Americans go off a plan far too quickly and far too often. They call it flexibility. We call it lack of discipline. In many cases they simply lose their nerve.
Germans will stick to a plan, or a part of a plan, that is failing. They are often rigid, inflexible, even dogmatic. As if a plan was the guarantor for good results.
Advice to Germans
Be prepared for how flexibly, or ill-disciplined, Americans handle any plan. They reserve the right to veer from the plan based on their reading of the current situation.
As early as possibly discuss with your American colleagues when and why they are likely to go off plan. Get a sense for their logic. If you’re executing a plan together you need to be in constant dialogue about how flexible the plan should be.
Advice to Americans
Germans will stick to the plan. Be prepared for that. They will veer off the plan only if and when there are convincing reasons.
As early as possibly discuss with your German colleagues when and why they are likely to stick to the plan even when there is evidence that it is not helping. Get a sense for their thinking. Remain in constant dialogue about the situation.