Warning: This may come off at times as an incredibly naive and idealistic. I am perfectly aware of this and attribute it to my lack of formal study in political science, foreign policy and the effect that rainbow color palettes and cartoon graphic design aesthetics have on me when I go to China. Please feel free to post “get your head out of the clouds” links for me to come back down to the nitty-gritty world of reality as you see fit.
The last year has been a bit of a whirl wind for me. Metaphorically, I “dove off a cliff” in my career on a whim and instead of emerging from the cloud canopy below the cliff onto a bunch of jagged rocks on the shore, I have glided safely, and wonderfully, to a posh and comfortable island that I didn’t realized was just below the cliff, out of my immediate view.
Leaving a position that I had painfully outgrown and deciding to venture into the mysterious world of consulting opened my eyes up to new ways of looking at my industry, as well as new ways of establishing professional relationships. My position at my new company has allowed me to not only work a cool new project but also to travel quite a bit and learn all kinds of lessons of the world from a business point of view, rather than simply they casual traveler point of view.
I have come face to face with an attitude that I hadn’t experienced before and therefore never truly realized or understood – colonialism (I was a math undergrad and my all the classes for my social science degrees dealt primarily in US issues 😦 ). It took me a while to even figure out how to describe the odd way felt when I heard some people talking about working in non-US markets. Once a friend used that word and it clicked. Basically that we are helping them to progress to our level, while we benefit greatly or greater in the process. Still positive, but a decidedly hierarchical attitude.
This morning as the sun was rising on my last day in Shanghai, following a great day meeting so many great Chinese entrepreneurs in our industry, I started thinking about another word that I also have never spent a great deal of time thinking about and also has a contentious connotation – globalization. (Here’s where you can all start searching for the ills of globalization links, as I am about to get very “happy fun time” here, so be warned).
We are at such a cool time in our history, especially in digital industries that deal in intellectual property. It is so inspiring to see the excitement and fervor that the companies I have talked with this year display about this brave new world the digital age is opening up. And quite sobering to see the resolve that hits them when they:
1. see/have/are presented with a new idea and get excited about it and then
2. form a realistic process on the stop to make it happen and then
3. DO it.
I don’t know about you, but I have been surrounded with so many people this past decade, in our industry and very much not in our industry, who spend so much time on the either the first or the second step that they never get to the 3rd step or forget that it exists.
Having the chance to see people from different cultures who are so similar to us in millions of ways but have distinctly different ways of living and seeing the world, develop the same sorts of ideas but in entirely new ways, is truly inspiring and has already had a huge impact on my work personally.
Prices are lower in some of these markets, which is certainly the catalyst for moving to them, at least initially. But I think the innovation potential is so much higher due to completely fresh ways of approaching situations. And the prices will go up as they catch up to (and eventually surpass) US and European markets in regards to volumes. Then the cycle will continue with the next set of countries/markets.
Things will change, some for the worse, many for the better, but change is inevitable and I would rather ride it’s wave than try to unsuccessfully resist it or divert it’s path in unrealistic directions.
Again, please feel free to slam away at my pedantic view of global business. Send me the links to the bad effects of globalization, but when you do, also send your thoughts on solutions that can help us continue the good parts while fixing the bad ones. It would be a shame not to think that way, especially since all our global partners already are.
<braces herself for the feedback> 😉
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Tags: globalization, colonialization,