Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

the day to day experiences of a consultant operating in weird and wonderful client situations

Interviews with Asian Leaders – what did we find?

A first for iROAM (inarticulate Ramblings of a Management Consultant)! I have asked my co-inteviewer to give his perspective on the interviews we conducted. Abhay Pande made some comments below which I wanted to share with you.
My friend Ben de Haldevang and I spent a fair bit of time over the spring and summer of 2016 talking to a number of Asian senior executives, across several sectors, about their views on how Asian business practices, decisionmaking, and organizations worked in comparison to those in the west.   In particular, we wondered about how Asian business culture would manifest itself globally as more Asian businesses were acquirers and investors, rather than investees or trade partners.
Historically, most analyses of Asian business culture was written by westerners for westerners, generally as observational and contrasts to modern western business.  So it is timely, now that Asian businesses are becoming global powerhouses, that we hear from the Asian perspective.
Ben takes a managerial and organizational perspective; coming from a financial and investing background, I am fascinated by the implications of business culture, decision-making, and strategy on things like valuation, investing returns, and financial risk.  These two aspects reveal themselves over the course of our discussions.
Three main observations jump out at me as I listen through the series of interviews:
– Most of the executives have had significant exposure to western business practices: they went to university or business school in Europe or the US, or worked for major multinationals with a number of expats.  As a result, they are quite familiar with western “best practices” even when they recognize that these don’t apply in Asia.
– The storied Asian business hierarchies have some element of truth to them, but business cultures aren’t static.  So there’s a lot more flat organizational decision making than most people recognize.
– The one stereotype that does seem to be supported is the long-term investing mindset that many who we talked to mentioned.  None were motivated by the stock price next quarter, and most were quite happy making investments that their successors would harvest.

Categories: C suite leadership, Change management, China, Corporate Culture, Transformation

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