If processes and procedures make up the manual governing the inner workings of a company, whoever writes that manual determines how the work is done. This is especially the case in industrial sectors where processes are essential to the development, manufacturing and installation of complex products and systems. Because Germans are strongly product oriented, they instinctively strive to have the say about internal processes.
Because Americans are less inclined to view processes and procedures as making up the manual governing the inner workings of a company, the writing of those rules is rarely the forum where battles over power and influence take place.
Americans believe that all activities should be oriented on the conditions of the market and on the needs of customers. In the U.S. business context those driven by power and influence strive to have the say about access to and analysis of the market and customers.
The more that success is based on the product itself, the less important are the disciplines sales and marketing. Americans don‘t understand the primacy of product. Germans, therefore, are less concerned about Americans having the say in sales and marketing.
The more that success is based on the relationship with the customer, the less important are the disiplines development and manufacturing. Germans don‘t understand the primacy of market orientation. Americans, therefore, are less concerned about Germans having the say in development and manufacturing.
Advice to Germans
You Germans and Americans are colleagues. Get out of the power and influence game. If processes are crucial to success, convince your American colleagues to remain involved. Don‘t make the mistake of creating processes without total transparency and involvement of your U.S. colleagues.
Otherwise you‘ll produce German processes which don‘t work in the U.S. Your American colleagues will not implement them and make convincing arguments to upper management why. You‘ll lose that battle. And it will be painful.
Advice to Americans
Whether you think it important or not, get engaged in the internal discussions about processes. To prevent it from devolving into a power struggle, demand full representation, full transparency and full accountability. While involved, avoid being drawn into skirmishes.
Focus, and keep your German colleagues focused, exclusively on those processes which improve performance and the bottom-line. At the same time, get your German colleagues involved in your strategic thinking about how you go to market. Give up some of that power.