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Review: The New Silk Road - Secrets of Business Success in
by John S.
Overall Value 8
|Table of Contents:
Reflections on China at the End of the Second
Step by Step
A Shortage of Management
Getting the Balance Right
Building the Team
Leading the Change through Partnership
Controlling the Uncertainties
Bridging the Gap
The Banner and the Reality
Clever and Sensible Adaptation Is Key
Looking at the Problem through Chinese Eyes
About the Author
The New Silk
Road: Secrets of Business Success in China Today (Amazon
link) by John B. Stuttard is a loose collection of
interviews that were conducted with eleven foreign business leaders that are
active in China. The author adds his own perspective to the book, which
comes from years of global management experience. Recently he spent about
five years as Chairman and Chief Executive of the China business of
PricewaterhouseCoopers. Stuttard has worked around the globe and he has
played a major role in helping multinational businesses.
The book comes at
a good time since many companies are starting to see that China is an
important market to enter. Also, with the recent political and social
changes taking place, now is a relatively good time to investigate doing
business in China. Some companies have decided that they must enter China to
survive so books such as The New Silk Road are important to business
leaders. Other companies aren't sure if they need to be there and would like
to know if the market is worth entering. Either way, this book is for those
people seeking some guidance on doing business in China.
The Secrets of
Success in China
Chapter One of The
New Silk Road seems to cover about 80% of the content of the book. In
about 30 pages you learn what the book is about and most of the secrets are
revealed. So, if you don't have time, you can read Chapter One and learn
most of what the book has to offer.
Below is a condensed
list of secrets that I extracted from the book.
China is not
one market; China is many markets (geographically, linguistically,
culturally, and economically)
(connections and relationships) is important; focus on building long and
important in Chinese society; structure, standards, and controls need to
be in place.
levels of Chinese government dominate the business environment; expect
Get the local
Chinese involved as much as possible; put extreme emphasis on
Focus on long
term success; be patient and don't try to rush; take things one step at
training people; transfer knowledge to gain trust and respect.
Of course, there are
some other secrets but these are the ones that seem to be the most
important. The secrets I mentioned above are also the ones that the
executives mentioned again and again.
Here is another useful
checklist of things to consider if you plan on establishing operations
or doing business in China.
Quality of the
employees and social liabilities
of inventory and receivables
people to address these issues very early. Before you enter into formal
agreements and contracts, you need to make sure that these things are
resolved. This is especially important if you are entering into a joint
agreement with a Chinese company or with the government.
Stuttard's book is
very short and easy to read. For the most part this is good. If you are
busy, the book is valuable because you can digest it in just a few hours.
Stuttard extracts important business knowledge from seasoned executives
doing business in China in less than 150 pages. However, this also means
that the book often lacks depth, background and historical perspective.
There are many places where such context would have be appropriate.
Based on the
interviews in The New Silk Road, it really does seem that there are
secrets to success. The executives end up saying the same things over and
over. The consistency from one to the next is remarkable. These are either
real secrets or Stuttard is doing some interesting editing!
While you might
think that many of the points are common sense, be aware that they might
only be obvious after reading the book. In other words, if you needed to
make a list of things to worry about in China, you would probably do a poor
job at capturing all of the right things. This is a lot like usability. Once
the data reveals the problems it is too easy to think that the results are
obvious. We can all predict the past.
There might be
better books on doing business in China but I thought The New Silk Road was
pretty good. The author has a lot of experience in China and the executives
he interviews seem like the kind of people worth listening to. The book is
also inexpensive and easy to read. If you need to get a quick overview and
you want to listen to some smart executives, buy the book. But remember, if
you really need deep knowledge, this book will not satisfy you.
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