“Spending money,” the great Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma once said, “is much harder than making money.” Ma was talking about the burden of responsibility on the super-rich to use their wealth wisely – to advance society and help people. “Society,” the Alibaba pioneer added, “has entrusted you to invest. But you’ve got to wait for the talent, the organization, and the system to be ready before doing it.” Ma’s words apply just as well to whole nations. The new superpowers of China and India find themselves at a crossroads. Economic success is undeniable but uneven. Where and how should they invest? As our cover story (page 28) clearly outlines, there are many hurdles ahead for the rising powers. China faces major challenges over water scarcity, pollution control and reliance on imported oil, all of which offer gigantic opportunities for multinationals that wish to invest there. India, still a decade or more behind its neighbour, holds vast investment promise in the areas of education, renewable energy, travel and transportation. As our expert authors Anil K Gupta and Haiyan Wang illustrate – Asia, the new centre of global commerce, is a continent of almost infinite opportunity. But, as Ma warned, the conundrum centres on understanding how to spend. For business strategies to succeed in Asia, Western leaders must drop their preconceptions and – in many cases – abandon customs that served them well enough at home. In a stimulating piece, Harvey Chen (page 16) urges investors in China to overcome their cultural discomfort with emulation, and embrace it instead. The fact that your product can and will be copied need not be a barrier to commercial success, Chen argues. In China, it is not that innovation is good and emulation bad, rather that the successful do both rather well.
Elsewhere in the journal, HEC Paris adjunct professors Hervé Coyco, Roger Hallowell and Randall White provide an invaluable text on going beyond employee engagement, imbuing your teams with purpose and loyalty. Core to their manifesto is a persuasive guide to breaking rules. Being a slave to the rulebook doesn’t work; but nor should frameworks be recklessly undermined. Continuing with the practical assistance, Marshall Goldsmith returns (page 46) to challenge readers to examine whether they play well with other executives. Many leaders, Goldsmith argues, have a skewed view of how well they interact. He provides a vital tool for making an assessment and a subsequent improvement. At the heart of good team interplay is trust – the oil of all human relationships. Given that, trust expert Rachel Botsman – making her Dialogue debut – wonders why humans are increasingly delegating the allocation of trust to machines. She argues that the boom in the trust economy has not been accompanied by a commensurate improvement in the systems and algorithms in which people increasingly place their faith. In the digital age, human judgment should become more important, not less. As Duke Corporate Education’s global head of new businesses Michael Canning conveys (page 13), this is precisely the time to focus on qualities that are uniquely human. The world is a volatile place; globalization has opened up markets that once seemed remote. In building new global partnerships and opening new avenues, the human factor is more important than ever. Enjoy the issue. Ben Walker is editor of Dialogue
Q1 2018 Dialogue
Published on Oct 30, 2017