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Act 2 - American colleague about German processes

„Our German colleagues takes their processes a bit too seriously. They always want to talk about our processes, as if the entire success of our technology and our company were dependent on processes. Sure they are important, but more crucial is whether they help us reach our goals.

I mean, processes are nothing more than tools. If they work, great. If not, either modify or get rid of them. Heck, we have processes that frankly noone really pays attention to. Often they are outdated or things change so rapidly that we have to react quickly.

Their German processes are so complicated. It’s as if they want to connect everything that exists into one big system. If you take a look at some of their graphs you’ll see this thinking. They’re true works of art! It can take an hour to figure them out, following all of the solid and dotted lines, the arrows, colors and numbers. Great to be systematic in thinking. Key, however, is to break the complexity down so that you can move forward.

What none of us has quite figured out is when our German colleagues stick to a process and when they deviate. Sometimes when it is clear to us that we have to stick literally to a certain process or procedure one of our German colleagues goes off and interprets it they way he feels.

And the other way around, too. I mean, there are steps in some processes where it is clear, you have to interpret, or even in somes cases simply skip over. That’s when an exasperated German colleague comes along and demands that we stick to the process.

Oh, and by the way, never assume that your German colleagues have documented their processes. When we asked to see their documentation, they said that they didn’t have it. At first we didn’t believe them. Then we realized that they were telling the truth. Nothing, or very little, was documented!

And to top it off, they did all they could to avoid having to write down how they work. Very strange. Once you do get your hands on their documentation be prepared for a surprise. They are short, totally general and the procedures sometimes aren’t there! We all swore that they were hiding again.

Anyway, we’ve lost a lot of time in our team, and I suspect in the company, fighting over processes. Now we’re supposed to integrate them, but that will be a long hard ordeal. Nobody on this side of the Atlantic is thrilled with the prospect of using the German processes. We all think we should use ours. They can use theirs.“

Are these comments plausible to you?