Deductive vs. Inductive

German Approach

Deductive thinking is inference. The conclusion about particulars follows necessarily from general or universal premises. German processes and procedures are arrived at deductively, based on standards and norms, which provide guidance on how to do the work.


American Approach

Inductive thinking is also inference. It is a generalized conclusion based on particular instances. American processes and procedures are arrived at inductively, based on experience, which provides guidance on how to do the work.


German View

From the German perspective Americans don‘t gain sufficient distance from the details of their work in order to recognize certain patterns. The foundation is not there for process optimization, an analysis of what is and is not working. Abstraction is required.

American View

From the American perspective German processes are developed in a vacuum, are theoretical, too far removed from everyday business. Deduced from principles (standards and norms) they can have a one-size-fits-all character, not taking into account the particulars of the U.S. market, of American customers.

Advice to Germans

Explain your standards and norms, and how you arrived at them, your data and methodology. Most importantly, engage in a dialogue with your American colleagues about when the processes can be adapted to the situation on the ground. Strive to understand the impact of processes on their reality.

Advice to Americans

Don‘t sit just back and criticize German processes. Step into their process laboratory. Gain distance from the details of what you do. Get abstract. Search out the deeper-lying principles governing how you do the work. Engage in the discussion of when to deduce from the principle, when to induce from the particular.