For Germans the goal and the path to that goal are almost indistinguishable. The product, and the processes which lead to the product, are two sides of the same coin. A work result﹣an output or literally a product or service﹣is only as good as the processes which led to it.
For Americans processes are tools, a means to an end. Processes assist, support, enable people to organize their work and their interaction. Processes cannot, and should not, replace human judgement.
To Germans the American processes often appear to be a series of to-do lists. Like cooking recipes, no more than tools, a helper‘s helper. The potential of well-defined processes is either misunderstood, underrated, or misused.
To Americans the Germans attempt to solve all problems via processes. They misunderstand their limits. Many aspects of a complex business are difficult to objectify, to make abstract, to force into a process. Constant incremental modification of processes often does more harm than good. Its added value is questionable.
Advice to Germans
Naturally the question of how the work is done is important. But don‘t overstress it. Together with your American colleagues identify those aspects of your work which are best understood and managed via processes. Other areas, due to their complexity and deeply human nature﹣leadership, customer interaction, innovative thinking﹣will only be frustrated, limited, hemmed in by forcing a process on them.
Advice to Americans
Join your German colleagues in the discussion recommended above. Explain to them when you rely on processes and when they are of only limited value. Describe how Americans use processes as a tool to achieve results. Also, explain to your colleagues the very practical and pragmatic role of checklists.