Hangzhou and Wuhan
"There is chaos under Heaven, and the situation is excellent" - Mao Tse-Tung
For the outsider, what is happening in China may appear chaotic. But it is the lens through which we look at China that often makes it seem as such. In truth, what some perceive as chaos, many others see as an excellent opportunity. So how does one learn to lead an organization in such an environment if our perspectives are so different?
Introduction to The International Forum in China:
The International Forum in China is for executives who lead a global business here, in the region or who are responsible for the strategic direction of their firms worldwide. This Forum is an opportunity for participants to learn from others who have business interests in China and how the changes taking place here will affect their personal and professional choices in the future.
Participants in the program learn from each other and from leaders in business, government, education, the arts, medicine and society. The program is designed for participants to gain a first hand understanding of the culture and the changes taking place in China today. These "encounters" with people are face-to-face, informal and wherever possible, in their own environment, so that all may understand more clearly and see first-hand the complexity of the challenges and opportunities in China today.
"How do you
think about China? What is the lens through which you look at what is
happening here? First you must 'know yourself" and from there you can
assess what you encounter in China"
Encounters with people across China also provide a lens through which to view our own organizations, cultures and countries and in so doing gain a greater understanding of ourselves.The International Forum creates programs which challenge leaders to learn more about themselves and the world outside their organizations. Our programs combine an in-depth and on-the-ground learning experience of markets and societies in the world that are of strategic importance to participants, while also providing a time for introspection and learning about oneself as a leader. Programs like The International Forum in China emphasize learning from other leaders in many disciplines either through encounters with them or in hands-on experiential learning. The International Forum has been creating Active Learning experiences for leaders all over the world since 1988.
"People are now saying that they have everything - so now what?
What do they stand for? What is right and what is wrong? Where is
the moral compass in China?
How is China affecting the world and the choices we
will be making on a personal and professional level in the future?
Among many factors, China’s progress to date is marked by:
China also faces many challenges including:
Some questions and points for discussion include:
The Significance of the Greater China Economy in the world today:
China's re-emerging Civil Society and the Social Challenges
The Outlook for Political and Social Stability in China and the Region
The "China Way"
China’s system for doing business is deeply rooted in its history and culture. Its entrepreneurial companies, public companies, State Owned Enterprises, and banking system may seem like any other but their purpose and behavior is uniquely different than other systems. The means for acquiring capital, human talent and creating the structures needed to conduct business differ greatly from other economies in the world, particularly the West.
Foreign firms who assume that things in China are as they seem, do this at a cost.
The Global Company in East Asia
The forces of change and instability which influence business in China and the region and ultimately in the world are looked at first hand with individuals and foreign companies who have now been operating in the region for decades.
The five days of The International Forum in China are filled with interviews and encounters with all types of people in China. It is a rigorous program beginning each day with an optional Tai Chi class or a bike ride through local neighborhoods. The mornings and afternoons are filled with visits to companies, schools, hospitals, homes, villages etc. At least once a day, participants are given a choice of what to do. Some may choose to visit a small company, while others choose to visit a high school to speak with students or be part of a session on values and social change with some of our resident experts. The Forum agenda is a combination of pre-arranged meetings and visits that support the learning objectives of the program. It also includes a selection of unexpected and surprise encounters.
Resources: For the months prior to the Forum, participants receive a series of packages of reading materials written by our expert resources and others as well as a list of questions to consider. They also receive a journal in which to prepare questions and objectives for their participation at the Forum.
The 22 participants of the Forum are accompanied on their journey by a team of expert resource people who travel with us by train and airplane through China. They are chosen because of their extensive experience in China. In April 2004 resource people included: Dr. Ken DeWoskin, University of Michigan; Dr. Gordon Redding, INSEAD, Dr. Derong Chen, Norsk Hydro, Beijing; Professor Tianxiang Zhan, Zhejiang University, Mr. John Pomfret, Washington Post, Beijing; Ms. Chiara Dai, Lexmark International, Shanghai; Professor Guy Olivier Faure, Sorbonne University and Dr. Marc Faber, Managing Director, Marc Faber Ltd, Hong Kong.
For a complete list of the other
resources of The International Forum in China please contact us.
Cynthia Carroll of Alcan, at Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai; Participants meet with Jesse Wu of Johnson & Johnson China
Who you meet and how you learn:
The Program officially begins in Shanghai early on the morning of April 18, though the group will convene informally the evening of April 17. From Shanghai the program travels to Hangzhou in neighboring Zhejiang province. From there it moves to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, in the center of China on the Yangtze River. The program ends after dinner on April 22.
April 18-19: Shanghai
In Shanghai, participants meet with business leaders and employees of foreign (American, German, French, Singaporean, Korean and Japanese) companies operating in China. It is an opportunity to learn face-to-face from people who have led organizations in China for at least the past 10 years and who have immersed themselves in Chinese culture. Their wealth of experience and insight provide a lens through which one can view some of the many changes taking place in China today. Young people from all over China have come to find work in Shanghai. Discussions with them reveal aspirations, frustrations, hopes and insight into China's future.
Shanghai experiences all the benefits and challenges of an exploding urban center. Meetings with people in hospitals, schools, social service organizations and the arts give participants insight into the changes taking place in the urban societies and the challenges facing education, healthcare, the elderly and the migrant population.
As the gateway to China and the city traditionally reserved for foreigners, Shanghai also provides the right setting to consider China's relationship with the region and the rest of the world. China's domestic challenges including an aging population and rising unemployment as well as its increased need for energy sources are discussed with experts and people involved with these issues on a day to day basis.
April 20-21: Hangzhou and Yiwu
Hangzhou, once the capital of the Southern Song dynasty, today is the site of one of China's best universities and hot bed for many of China's new entrepreneurs. The city provides an opportunity to experience China's growing "private" sector through meetings in companies with young entrepreneurs involved in software and technology development. Participants will speak directly with young business owners who have begun to expand globally in search of new ideas and markets. The "private sector" is also dominated by companies who have been transformed from state owned or town and village enterprises to semi private companies. Participants will meet with two leaders who have taken old and inefficient state companies and turned them around to now compete globally in manufacturing and retail.
Discussion with employees of some of these companies provides insight into management philosophies, approaches to creativity and an insatiable appetite to learn and to succeed.This city also provides an opportunity to explore the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, particularly in combination with Western medicine.
The small city of Yiwu, is the marketplace for those from developing and developed economies all over the world who have come to buy goods from China at its source. Manufacturers of low cost, small commodities including socks, handbags, Christmas decorations, hair pieces, silk flowers, small appliances, toys etc sell directly to traders and wholesalers from small shops and booths in either one of the three enormous enclosed markets or from the streets of the city itself. Last year it is estimated that its turnover was 20 billion RMB or $2.5B (US) with exports at about $1.5B.
In this city of trade, participants meet with leaders of private enterprises, which did not exist 20 years ago and which today are changing consumer markets around the world through their aggressive cost structures and choice of product.
April 22: Wuhan
Considered to be at the center of China, where the Hanshui River meets the Yangtze River, it is the largest inland port in the middle section of the Yangtze and a major stop on the Beijing-Guangzhou railway. It is also part of China's "go west" initiative to bring economic development further into the interior. Surrounded on all sides by rich farmland, the city is slowly taking over rural areas as it expands and develops.
In Wuhan we meet with Chinese and foreign firms from textiles to technology. University students from all over China come to Wuhan to study at one of the 47 universities in this city and will speak frankly with us about their job prospects, their home towns and their views on China and its future.
Wuhan is home to many treasures in particular a collection of Bronze bells and musical instruments from the the Warring States period (482-221 BC). Viewed as part of the mandate of heaven, music played a key role in the moral development of the gentleman's character. The order established in music was presumed to be a model of Heaven's perfect harmony. The twelve note non-tempered scale that was created in China in 400BC is both a scientific and artistic wonder. Participants discover the secrets of this era not well known to many in the West.
The city is also a site for a discussion of the ancient thought leader, Confucius, and how what he wrote over 2,000 years ago still has relevance to understanding China and Chinese culture today.
The villages surrounding Wuhan provide insight into China's changing rural landscape and the social challenges brought about by China's economic reform. How displaced farmers are finding alternate sources of livelihood and what their hopes are for their children are shared in informal talks with them.
Participants will meet the owner and employees of a small machine and die shop in the center of Wuhan, which hires laborers from surrounding villages and produces plastic components for export.These face-to-face encounters with people from all parts of China’s society, economy and leadership are considered in an individual and group project for presentation and discussion on the final evening of the Forum.
"China is the most competitive place in the world.
- Peter Harris
To View Photos from The Leaders Forum in China April 2004 click here
For information on how to register for this Forum program please contact us at Mail@internationalforum.com