Diagrams vs. Prose

“Why do Americans prefer describing processes in prose text? Germans prefer diagrams, which can then be combined to illustrate processes. The German approach seems to be übersichtlicher (clear, clearly arranged).“

A interesting point!

Germans brief

I’ve seen many process documents in both cultures. The Americans seem to use both prose text and illustrations. In fact, Americans are famous for preferring pictures with some explanatory words over too much text. I agree, however, that many process and procedure descriptions can be lengthy in wording.

On the other side, German process descriptions do tend to be brief, often relying on illustrations and very limited prose text. Could it be that those who write the processes in Germany assume, and expect, that the reader need only see the illustration (the boxes and their connections) in order to understand what needs to be done?

Americans lengthy

On the flipside, could it be that American process descriptions assume that the reader is not familiar with the process, therefore it needs to be spelled out in prose text?

Implied in the fact that a process is documented is that those people who will read it are not necessarily familiar with it. If that is the case, then it makes sense for the document to go into detail, or more detail than its German counterpart.

Differences are key

The more fundamental question here, though, is what the different approaches to such documents tell us about the differences between Americans and Germans when it comes to processes and procedures. Documents are no more than representations of logics, approaches, methods, ways of doing things.

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