For many people all over the world, “Made in Germany” stands for high efficiency work leading to safe, precision-made, high-tech, reliable, and long-lasting, but also expensive and not-always-customer-focused products. “Perfection to the last detail,” like Osman Bayazit Genc, a general manager in the tourism industry from Turkey put it [when asked for input for my recent book].
Perfectionism, if you can afford it money- and time-wise, is one thing, but sometimes, products and services can just get totally over-engineered. My favorite example of this phenomenon are the huge and robust Deutsche Bahn ticket vending machines with their big touchscreen monitors; when you have managed to complete the complicated order process (phew!), better collect all the receipts that are slowly printed one after another, so as to make sure you do not leave the actual ticket behind!
[…] Nevertheless, just like I do not believe that every German is a great poet or thinker, it would never occur to me to argue that people over here are all gifted engineers (“Ingenieure”) and great inventors; although, I do observe certain traits, customs, and behaviors that somehow seem to be connected with how particular industries prosper.
Even at the risk of being accused of stereotyping, I would suggest that Germans overall are more concerned about precision than people from many other countries. Not only do we expect that a screw should precisely, rather than somewhat, fit the wall plug, we also greatly value precise instructions and clear communication. Be careful when using the word “pragmatic” in a business conversation because some consider pragmatism the source of all evil. As thoroughly thought through, long-term solutions are generally preferred over quick fixes, the entrepreneurs’ and industrialists’ planning horizons might be much longer here than in other parts of the world, like in the United States, for example.