A change we need – Asian case study

imageAs US President Obama passes his 100th day office in the white house, a poll reveals that his popularity is still up there. Following shortly, outbreak of the deadly A(H1N1) hits the front page of every newspaper and talksshow. I slowly realize that all of this is related to “change”.

You can find good articles/blogs out there regarding changes and how to manage them. However, I found that cultural and behavior change is the most challenging when implementing a PM project in Asia.

A recently “Creative Management post talks about this and I agree the idea of communication and building culture of change into the organization.

However, it’s not that straight forward, especially in Asia.

First, most organizations are NOT built for changes. From research, among the top 10 profitable companies in 2008, over 50% are “known” to be driven and operated by a “group” of  old folks. The revenue generating “business units” works based on what has been done for the past 30-50 years without any change. Supporting units only function as a process to support those units.

Next, the culture itself is not ready. Debate and discussion as a team player doesn’t happen to be the norm here. People don’t speak up in meetings and discussions, as one is taught that talking back to elderly is not appropriate and should be avoided.

Finally, communication media is not effectively utilized. Emails and documents don’t seem to be effective here.

Private talks /lunch or dinner gatherings /gossip/ rumors works effectively.

This is even harder when the subject of change is “intangible and unknown”. Performance management happens to be an “intangible” compared to revenue, cash and head counts. Reluctance is noticed when jumping out from their comfortable zone into something “unknown”. To make things even harder, all of the above in a limited time frame.

It seems that when considering implementation PM projects, one has to consider the timing used to educate the “intangible and unknown” areas to the clients as well. Failing to do so will result and bad handoff and maintenance thought the life-cycle of the application.

To those who think “Change” is something that has to happen now or there is no change, I say this: Nothing in life happens by wishing it to be so, you have to work for it.

But life in the fast lane of change,  has its humorous side too. I found this joke circulating this week on Humour For All Occasions.

100 years ago, they said that when a black man became president, pigs would fly.

On the 100th day of Obama’images presidency    …Swine Flew



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5 thoughts on “A change we need – Asian case study

  1. “Change is really quite a pain…everyone seeing it from different perspective,everyone doing it at different pace. We can’t really follow the book when it comes to change management.Sometimes a beer does the trick 🙂

  2. Absolutely correct. That is not unique to Asia though. It is the same in virtually every country outside of the Western countries. Not that the cultures are not different in the Latin Americas and Asia. They are distinctly different. The common thread is that “real business” takes place in a more relax atmosphere…one on one in many cases. Once I realized that years ago, it really became quite simple to get so much more accomplished (and actually more enjoyable).

  3. Interesting perspective, and I totally agree.
    Having managed project between east and west for over 25 years, the last 6 being a resident of Thailand, I would say the last part about communications media is the most important. The “real” communication (and agreements/deals) does not happen on the surface in emails, conferance calls or even in-office chats. It does, indeed, happen usually off-site in informal venues. This is somthing lost on many westerners when conducting business here. They rely too much on the in-office activites to conduct business, and ignore the more important after hours work.

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