German Approach

The time allotted to making a decision should not be dictated by external pressure, but rather by the internal rhythm of the decision-making process.

American Approach

It is quite often better to make a suboptimal decision quickly, than to make a better decision too slow or too late. Subptimal decisions can be corrected.

German View

The American tendency to move fast in order to achieve results can become a source of confusion for Germans. They often have difficulty identifying a clear logic behind the actions taken.

What Americans would term rapid response coupled with a high level of flexibility, their German colleagues would call “Aktionismus” (actionism) or nervous movement without or at the expense of thought-through action.

American View

Germans take too long to make decisions. It is difficult to understand why they risk angering the customer (internal or external).

German decision making can appear rigid, and in conflict with the purpose of the decision. As if the process were more important than the decision itself. For Americans, a decision making process is a contradiction in terms. People, not processes, make decisions.

Advice to Germans

Your operating assumption should be that you have less time at your disposal to make a good decision. Your decision making speed should be based on the time needs of whoever benefits from your decision, whoever is the receiver of your decision-making deliverable.

Advice to Americans

Be guarded against the cliché that Germans are slow in deciding. Their decisions tend to be further-reaching than the American approach. German colleagues or team leads will allow you more time to make a decision, provided your approach is methodical.

Use the additional time wisely. However, when you perceive the need to decide quickly, inform your German colleagues a.) why this is so, and b.) how a quick decision, if later proven to be suboptimal, can be corrected.