Reflections from my Shanghai Trip

In china business by Michael Michelini6 Comments

Heading back to Shenzhen in a bit (sitting in a delayed terminal due to rainstorms in south china), and wanted to summarize and reflect on my 10 days in shanghai.

  • Management – I have always admitted to myself and to others this is my weakness, details and pushing others to work. Also somewhat feel it is cultural differences in style, but even in usa I would consider myself not strong in management abilities. But in china and asia, it is crucial and cannot be delegated. Seeing other chinese offices and operations I realize I have to be more direct, more measurable, more detailed. I am not in american and cannot succeed here without managing like other domestic companies. Its all about localization, and adapting to your environment. My loose and flexible style will never be effective here, I have to set firm guidelines and deliverable leaving no room for flexibility for the worker. Kinda don’t like that, but it is the only way here….
  • Factory worker life – recent news about the suicides at the foxconn china plant also correlates closely with the above point “management”….and this culture of strong and strict management procedures alsoo has to take into account happiness odds the staff… have to leave some flexibility in the worklife else …well…a bit extreme but notice this recent news about factory workers jumping from buildings. Good management, well structured, with a happy environment….tough balance.

  • Ecommerce between usa / china
    – bridging the divide – this is where I have to see my value as a person and as a company. Americans see me as a resource for china market , while chinese see me as an inlet into usa….but how to monetize this, how to build the longest lasting value. And how to not be used as a puppet or monkey by either side and tossed away after being used. This is the question, and the challenge I am faced with.
  • Family carrying tradition and culture – I think I have been away from home too long….but think it has to do with the idea that its going to take longer then I thought before the world is “flat” ….children will grow up in their culture, surrounded by their parents and their family,s perspectives and ideas of their history and the history of other countries….so the openness and free flow of technology and internet may not make it as transparent still.

Again, I am trying my best to keep and open mind, identify my strengths and weaknesses as a person and businessman, and adjust accordingly. Again, its like those blog is titled, happiness in pursuit, its about becoming who we are meant to be, and the adventure in between

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  1. foxconn was on fire tonite….it’s a bit scary as it’s due to political issue u know? the boss’ a taiwanese~

    actually i’v quite a different view n life from my local frenz n family. even i live with my parents…so i’d say, yea, family n frenz change us but if we choose the way we live, we live our own lives~ for me, i’v no mindset, no absolute insistence to cultural / traditions. everything’s pretty flexible for me. n i’m very adaptable too. yet, hk’s such an international city~

    ~ my family’s pretty traditional somehow, all chinese, only a few with overseas background, but i can get along with them all well (actually i can get along wit most ppl in the world ;P) mayb coz i’v different faces ;P

    – for u, um..away fm hm for 2 yrs, how did this change u? do u feel like u r more chinese?

    n, sun block in phillippines pls~

    1. Author

      hey Lammy,
      well, you are born in Hong Kong. i think its a much different country then USA or China. It is a much more open and exposed country. Maybe people in New York City, or in other metropolitan cities of these bigger countries – but in Hong Kong – its so small!! and such an open area to trade and international business….comparing it to a farm in China or USA is not even possible. Like Holland, they are a country of import / export traders, so many people there travel abroad, because its such a small country they need to do international business in order to survive! So its the size I think…

      And yea, I have DEFINITELY changed being in China almost 3 years, and not visiting USA ….but as far as measuring how much I have changed…think we’ll have to leave that to a future post where I have come back to USA for a visit.

  2. Mike –
    I hear you man. These are interesting points you bring up about management.

    1. Author

      Thanks Andrew – good to see you reading, management man….that is what I need to master now…cannot think I can outsource or partner it away….

  3. hey mike – i say push it. i know what your workers want. they want to know that they are successful for you and one of the ways they measure that is that they deliver on time for you. but i think that your looser management style could work. pick out specific employees that it could work with and drive them to imagine, to think, to come up with ideas to make your company more profitable. give out a bonsus for a good idea that you like and if its successful or something. see how it works? have you done that before

    1. Author

      hey Piotr,
      thanks for the comment, I have tried that before, for 3 years almost now…..I don’t think that is the way to manage in Asia / China. That is American management style, which I had tried. Yes I was giving various forms of bonuses, but to be honest – the people want more structure, rules, and direction.

      It was true what I read in the books, but I thought I could come to China and change it. Again, like many “stupid foreigners” who come here and try to change things.

      Instead now I am learning from the local Chinese companies, going inside their offices and see the work environment and structure – which is daily, repetitive work with clear measurement formats.

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