29th Aug. '11

Asian Giants WILL be #1 in Knowledge Driven Businesses

A post by Pekka A. Viljakainen


I have just concluded our Singapore – Beijing NO FEAR book release tour.  Despite the fact that I have been blessed to work with Asian enterprises and talents for years, this visit was still fundamentally different than any trip prior.

First of all it was very interesting to have dialogue from businessmen and academics regarding the Chinese Edition of NO FEAR.  Though as a Finn, I struggle with compliments so I kind of passed through the first part of the dialogue. The next phase was an in depth discussion with true global relevance.

Based on this week and its dozens of discussions and debates, it is clear that China has really altered its course in a very pragmatic and convincing way. After reading an excellent column from the New York Times yesterday, the question that really circulates in my mind is: Why the heck are we- the rest of the world, so slow to learn and change our course?

Frankly speaking I was quite skeptical some 10 months ago, when it was proposed that the book could be translated to Chinese. I of course knew the size and the pace of this market – but the reason for my skepticism was the status of the economy and cultural heritage. I thought that the people oriented style of leadership presented in NO FEAR might be somewhat irrelevant for the historical, top-down, command-and-control approach.  Even before entering China with these themes, I could hear in my ears echoes from other emerging markets: “Why bother to spend time on people, when we already have 2 digit growth?  Why put true brain capacity and energy to super talents? It takes years to make true changes (everything >30 days = too long time), and secondly, after getting some new ideas and climbing the ladder – they would eventually leave your company!”

I was all wrong!  Based on the exciting discussions and debates, I can see China now realizes that the current manufacturing and domestic consumer driven economic growth is un-sustainable. While the rest of the world also realizes this, in our culture there is a long way from the acceptance of facts to the pragmatic execution of change. In our sessions, it was truly exceptional to see that all the deans, professors and CEO’s were all systemically talking about the same things: How to be better when with dealing with young talents? What needs to be changed in corporate cultures to be #1 in Knowledge Driven Industries in 2020? What we can learn from others?

While flying back to my never-never island here in Finland, I read an excellent article from Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times Saturday 27th: All Together Now). I sincerely hope that every politician and executive will read it with caution. It is not about a battle between Asian giants and rest of world, but about how to work together and develop our own value creation as individuals and as nations. The current speed and quality of discussions/actions is clearly not sufficient enough. Furthermore, if you read the news from past 12 months in Europe or USA, it seems that this topic is NOT at the top of the agenda, NOT even in top 100 list of topics to be DONE.


Some related link (in Chinese): http://nofear-community.com/chinese , http://www.chinavalue.net/pvisit/PekkaViljakainen.aspx

Roundtable debate in Beijing University of 26th of August, related to themes of NO FEAR; New Talent, PSF culture, global expansion, China’s next growth jump. Dean John Yang, Beijing International MBA at Peking University, CEO Vincent Chen, Institute for Leadership Excellence,   Associate Dean, Professor Hardy Niu, International Business School, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Vice President Pang Guo Zhongm, Kingsoft Corporation, CEO, Alex Lin, ChinaValue.net.


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