There is a German term for “German efficiency” – several in fact: deutsche Gründlichkeit, Effizienz, Fähigkeit, Leistungsfähigkeit, Tüchtigeit. German efficiency can be found gloriously in German doors and windows, in energy use (hall lights that only turn on if there’s motion; escalators that only start running when you step on them), in ecology (waterless urinals, low-flow toilets), in Bauhaus architecture (“less is more”), and in German manufacturing (think cars and giant turbines).
On the other hand, German efficiency can be very much overrated. The cliché can become mythical and frustratingly elusive. Germany’s often impenetrable bureaucracy is a case in point. Or Berlin’s new airport, where German efficiency has disappeared entirely and turned into raging incompetence. READ MORE »