All entries for Saturday 24 October 2009

October 24, 2009

Does culture really matter?

  Today, in class, my classmates had a discussion about cultre in a business context. What they were emphasising, is does culture really matter when choosing a business excellence model. I also find this is interesting.

  I cant remember what Internation Business told me in udergraduate clearly, but it told me it really matters. For a CEO who wants to expand his business world, he should have some research about the culture, politic environment and so on in that country. Once he decides to go, he should adapt the culture, customer, and people's feeling in that country. If not, he would fail. I remember the example on that book clearly. A company which prodices washing powder failed in Saudi Arabia. The cause is its outdoor advitisement. On that picture, 'before' is on the left and 'after' is on the right. However, in Saudi Arabia, people are reading from right to left. Thats why, this company would fail.

  Another example is from an artical I read a couple of years ago, which is about Google China. The arical said, the China branch of Google uses the same mode as the Us', which is relaxing and creativity encouraged. Therefore, those talents can have a excellent working environment and bring so much profit to Google.

  I use the examples above to show my opinion. I think culture really matters, because it can affect the usage of the excellence models. However, the excellence models are just tools, they have different factors that we can use to adapt the cultre. It is true that some companies  using some excellence models in another countryes failed, but it is because they can;t adapt themselves into those countries. If those companies can chang some function or some contents in the factors in  implementation, they might work well. Google's example is not a specal one, because all its welfare given to the employees are well fitted the Chinese culture. It is not a copy of what is uses in the US, but a more considerate for Chinese employees. Threrfore, it can succeed in China. Again, culture matters the implementation of excellence models, but we must adapt them into a new culture and country, or we can die.

Control from the bottom?

Yesterday when Paul was talking about OL, he introduced a way for CEO to control the managers and workers from the bottom, which is quite interesting. The reason is, usually, in an organisation, the CEO is on the top to manage the managers and workers. Based to the ratio of people's  quantity of these three positions, such organisation is like a pyramid. However, Paul said, being a CEO, we should make ourselves to the bottom of this pyramid, to listen to our managers and workers. If the organisation operates like this, I think this pyramid is up side down, and workers are on the top of this shape.

This sounds inspiring but when it is in implementation it often fail. We cannot always see that in a company the managers and CEO liesten to the lower workers. Instead, many companies use the tradiditional administrate way, juse as the normal pyramid. 

I think the reason why such an ideal approach cannot be widely used is, first, it is human nature that we have the sense of power and selfishness. In a company, everyone is waiting for the chance to be the CEO, and they compete with each other, therefore, they dont have too much time to cooperate or listen to others. I think this is quite understandable because we are all selfish. Most of things we do is for ourselves and our family. We have to fight for our fame and keep them long live. Therefore, if a CEO uses the up side down pyramid, he might feel tough to keep his position. So he would like to control his staff. Second, the result is hard to predict. Just like many politics riots for every year, the usage of this up side down pyramid might bring disasters. So many CEO would rather use a control policy in the company rather than democratic way. Who knows will the employees take over me one day?

  So I think in a company, we can have a balance of these two pyramids. If some issues are about the long term strategy that relate to the future, I think it should be a noremal pyramid because managers and CEO have a longer and wider view of such issues. In routine, people in management level, especially managers, should use the up side down one. Because lower workers have better experience on the operation and they can give constructive and advantaged advise to the company. Further, I think the CEO should be powerful enough, especially in psychological way. He should konw when should be 'hard' and when should be 'soft'. if anything wrong happens, he can give timely feedback and deal with the error. Thus I think a balance should be taken here.  

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