MY FAVOURITE CLARKMORGAN INSIGHTS VIDEO is by my colleague, Sai Yan. Her insight, titled ‘Chinese say ‘no’ by inaction, not words‘, summed up the cause for much of my frustration working in China over the past 12 years – Inaction as a conscious decision.
Inaction is a silent killer. Great ideas get no traction. New initiatives die on the vine, staff feel powerless, and as a result staff turnover results. While inaction can occur in any culture, in China it is heavily rooted in the desire of ‘harmony’ (和谐) . Faced with a difficult choice, which may anger one or more parties, the tactic is often to sit on a decision, and hope that the whole situation sorts itself out – or someone else takes the initiative.
This might work within a family, where blood-ties ensure goodwill is maintained no matter what, but in a business environment this inaction can be destructive. Decisions simply have to be made, so the business can move forward. A stationary company is one being overtaken by competitors.
Making a decision might be logical, but it often doesn’t feel logical. In extreme cases the heart beats faster, the room seems warmer, and the feet want to run. Don’t fight that feeling – go out and take a walk. But don’t neglect your responsibility. If you have ‘supervisor’, ‘manager’, or ‘director’ under your name then remember that you are paid to feel uncomfortable.
So today, make a decision. No matter how tough.