If surveyed, Germans would rank internal processes (how the work is done) just after people as key to the success of any enterprise. At times, however, it can appear that people are asked to serve the processes more than processes the people.
If surveyed, Americans most likely would not mention processes as a key to a company's success, instead citing factors such as customer and market orientation, innovation, rapid reaction time, price and financial engineering. More relevant than how the work is done is what the concrete results are.
Americans appear disinterested or unaware of the central importance of processes. Especially in times of crisis, when their German colleagues focus on structure and processes, their American colleagues seem to not engage in the internal discussion and analysis.
German internal analysis of processes quickly leads to a form of navel-gazing. The longer and more intense the analysis, the faster and further the company distances itself from the external world: customers, competitors, the market.
Advice to Germans
Analysis of how the work is done is important. But be sure to focus on its causal connection to the results for your external customers.
Engage your American colleagues by starting with the market and your customers, then working back into your organization and its internal processes.
Advice to Americans
Be patient. Listen carefully. When Germans talk processes, they‘re talking output, and the business bottom-line. They are one and the same. At their core Germans are European craftsmen.
Success is based on craftsmanship. It's all about how the work is done. Get engaged in the discussion about processes. Add your pragmatic American business thinking.