Very interesting post over at the always scintillating Managing the Dragon blog. The post is entitled, “Managing the Dragon, the Book (Update 2)” and it is the transcript of an interview with Jack Perkowski, writer of the just released (to strong reviews) book, “Managing the Dragon.” Was there any way I could have written that sentence without saying “Managing the Dragon” three times?
Here are my favorite questions and answers:
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Managing the Dragon?
There are many lessons to be learned from the book. Above all, though, I hope that the book will demystify China for the readers. It is true- there is a shroud of mystery that surrounds China, and there is much about the country that is difficult to understand. A central theme of the book, however, is that China does have its own logic, and that if you take the time and use your experience, knowledge and common sense, you can figure it out. Once you do, doing business in China, or just making sense of the country, becomes a whole lot easier.
What do you think the biggest areas of growth in China will be in the future?
China’s development as the “workshop to the world” has been the principal driver of the country’s tremendous growth over the past 30 years. While there will continue to be opportunities in manufacturing, the development of China’s service sector will present some of the most interesting areas for growth in the coming years. Health care and education are two areas where Chinese will be spending more and more of their money. Also, the consolidation of wholesale and retail distribution, and the development of better logistics capabilities, to more efficiently get goods into the hands of consumers will be very attractive sectors in which to invest.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you before you started building your company in China?
As I reflect on my time in China, it is clear to me that every mistake I have made, I have made because I acted too quickly and did not listen hard enough and long enough. More often than not, I should have just slowed down and taken a deep breath, rather than giving in to my gut reactions and desire for short term results. Patience is definitely a virtue in China.
What are the biggest challenges today faced by people who wish to start a company in China?
The biggest challenge for anyone who wants to start a company in China is developing and empowering a strong local management team. Although there is a long list of problems that must be overcome when operating in China, dealing with them becomes a great deal easier if a good local management team is in place. Because China does not have the same legacy of treating management as a science that exists in more developed countries, there is a management gap in China. Filling that management gap will continue to be the major challenge in China for some years to come. That is why the book devotes so much time to this important issue.
Would love to hear from viewers who have read the book. In particular, do you think it a good primer for building a business in China/doing business in China?