Der Weg ist das Ziel

Der Weg ist das Ziel. The path is the goal. Eastern thinking. Not Western. But a segway into how Germans understand the importance of process (how the work is done).

Garantie. Guaranty. Kein Werkzeug. Not a tool. Germans would say that a final product is only as good as the process which led to it. Process. How the work is done. And a process is only as good as the product it produces. Zwei Seiten einer Medaille. Two sides of the same coin. Not a tool.

If you work with Germans, you’ll know how intense and constant their focus is on how the work should be done. You’ll experience discussion after discussion, meeting after meeting, debate after debate. It can appear as if they are obsessed with process. All this at the expense of the user, of the internal or external customer. It can appear to threaten the very purpose, and success, of the activity.

But wait. When Germans engage about how the work is done, they are, in fact, talking about the customer, about how best to serve the customer. Two sides of the same coin. If you get the process right, you get the end product right. For the customer. In the German context, talking process is talking customer. The Germans may not use the term “customer”, or the term “serve”, or “value”. But this doesn’t mean that they are not focused on it. Actions speak louder than words.

For Germans, true focus on the customer is focus on how to do the work right. The path is not the goal. In the West, the goal is the goal. The path gets you there. Chart that path carefully. Walk that path the right way. “The right way.” Lots of room for discussion there.