Halftime in China

We have all heard that it’s halftime in America — and that we are going to come roaring out of the locker room for the rest of the game. That may be true, but here’s a heads up — business leaders in other parts of the world are giving themselves the same pep talk and expecting similar results.
I’m saying that because I’ve seen it first hand in training sessions for Chinese supply management professionals. We are working with employees of several billion-dollar global companies — some based in China and others that have Chinese operations. They are generally Chinese nationals, have good English skills, and are excellent students. They are attentive, ask questions, and apply what they have learned after our seminars.
I don’t want to sound like I’m stereotyping, but anyone who has ever visited the Beijing Pearl Market has seen how haggling over prices and quality is deeply embedded in Chinese culture. However, no one should look at the lively interactions between buyers and sellers there and think that Chinese procurement in general is focused just on transactions.
The organizations we are working with want to know best practices in supply management. They want to use the best tools and the latest strategies for bringing value from their supplier base. Because Chinese companies have operated in a protected domestic environment, their knowledge of global markets may have gaps, but the participants in our seminars are eager to fill them as quickly as possible.
This post is not supposed to be a warning. In a global economy Chinese companies may be your partners as well as your competitors. But it is an observation that they are not not expecting to do well only because they have access to cheap labor and a protective government. They are sharpening their skills in every area of business — and supply management is a high priority.

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