Because Germans believe in discipline – sticking to the plan – they do much less contingency planning.
Because Americans believe in flexibility – going off plan – they do much more contingency planning.
Americans are constantly building contingencies into their planning. It seems that American planning is in reality no more than contingency planning. They take any minor change in a given situation as an excuse to go off plan.
Germans don’t recognize the importance of preparing for unexpected situations. Their planning lacks foresighted contingencies. When conditions do change they are not prepared. This leads to real problems.
Advice to Germans
Bring more balance into your planning. Imagine differenct scenarios. Add the appropriate contingencies. Talk through these scenarios with your American colleagues. Change is a constant. Be prepared for it.
Advice to Americans
Good contingency planning is important. But not every change in a given situation requires a change, even if only minor, to the overall plan. Often it’s best to remain calm and stick tot he plan. In either case, discuss these eventual situations with your German colleagues.