Internal rhythm vs. External pressure

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

American Approach
In the American business context it is quite often better to make a suboptimal decision quickly, than to make a better decision too slow or even too late. Wrong decisions can be corrected. For Americans, a decision making process is a contradiction in terms. People, not processes, make decisions.

German perception
The American tendancy to move fast in order to achieve results quickly 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” or nervous movement without or at the expense of thought-through action.

Unfortunately, this confusion on the side of the Germans can turn into irritation if they feel blind-sided by an American “Dezisionismus” (hastily decisionism) which endangers their standards of decision-making quality and rhythm.

American perception
For Americans, Germans afford themselves too much time in their decision-making processes. It is difficult to understand why their German colleagues risk angering the customer by taking additional time. Germans appear overly conservative. From this perspective, German process discipline in decision making can appear rigid, at times in conflict with the purpose of the decision. It is as if the process were more important than the decision itself.

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.

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