There’s me sitting in Beijing talking to 2 people from one of our clients, a massive Chinese bank. Slightly odd (to my western sensibilities, don’t take this as any kind of slur) almost military type people, very straight-backed and not even the merest inkling of the tiniest possibility of the smallest chance, that a smile could even begin to ponder approaching their lips…
For a whole 1.5 hours. (which seemed a lot longer…)
However there is always something to learn and this is what I got…
Apparently in many Chinese organisations the whole of concept of a cross-functional process is as alien as it is to some western companies (still…) however their problem is much bigger. You can define a cross-functional process and attempt to implement it, however feedback and any changes you might need to make are going to be painful:
If you’re a middle manager and you see something that should change, you absolutely can’t go and talk to your colleague in the next silo down the process, you must escalate to your silo head, who in the fullness of time may deign to communicate it to your colleague’s silo head, who may in turn pass the info to your colleague. Clearly the message may have become distorted by then (insert your own favourite chinese whispers joke) and may never even reach it’s intended target.
All of which poses some (!) organisational challenges to process collaboration and improvement, but also to collaboration features in software which are probably designed (by western companies) to assume that collaboration is a many-to-many construct. Therefore nobody’s action list gets too big.
The comment from one of my Chinese colleagues was that they were finding it difficult to use the collaborative functionality as about 5 people were getting actions from about 1 million employees….