If surveyed Germans would rank internal processes﹣how the work is done﹣just after people as the most critical factor to the success of any company. At times, however, it can appear that people are asked to serve processes more than processes are asked to serve people.
If surveyed Americans most likely would not even mention processes as critical to a company’s success. Instead they would name factors such customer orientation, innovation, rapid reaction time, pricing, and financial engineering. More relevant than how the work is done is what the concrete results are.
Americans can appear disinterested or unaware of the central importance of processes. Especially in times of crisis, when their German colleagues focus on organisational structure and processes, their American colleagues do not engage in the internal discussion and analysis.
From the American point of view German internal analysis of processes quickly leads to a form of navel-gazing. The longer and more intense the analysis the faster and further the company distances itself from the external world: from customers, competitors, and the market.
Advice to Germans
Analysis of how the work is done is important. But be sure to focus on its cause and effect relationship with the results for your external customers. Engage your American colleagues by starting with your customers, then working back into your organization to its internal processes.
Advice to Americans
Be patient. Listen carefully. When Germans talk processes, they‘re talking output, and therefore the business bottom-line. From their perspective they are one and the same. At their core Germans are European craftsmen. Success is based on craftsmanship. It‘s all about how the work is done. Get engaged in the discussion about processes. Then add your pragmatic American approach.