Differences in How Change in Practiced in East Compared to West

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    (Guest post from Ron Leeman.)

    I have also recently undertaken some “rough and ready” research into the different dynamics that impact the way change is practiced in the East to that of the West. I am looking at the dynamics from three perspectives:

    1. From Western Consultants who have had experience of and have practised Change & Transformation in Asia.
    2. From Asian Consultants who have had exposure to Western style Change & Transformation tools & techniques and who are actively practising in Asia.
    3. An overall consolidated view from both of the above.

    Feedback from my Change in Asia Group and many of my LinkedIn 1st Connections enabled me to compile the following 15 key dynamics:

    1. Religion – central to beliefs and ways of doing things in Asia.
    2. Pace of change – slower in Asia.
    3. Reasons for resistance – different reasons in Asia than in the West.
    4. Change awareness – understanding of the need for change is less prevalent in Asia.
    5. Cycles – not as important as in the West.
    6. Families – Asia is heavily focused on the family unit.
    7. Indigenous knowledge – more focused on the output rather than the process in Asia.
    8. Group focus – more focused on groups than individuals in Asia.
    9. Cultural integrity – an understanding of the Asian way of life.
    10. Inter-country obligations –less in Asia than in the West.
    11. Consensus – a need to understand and engage at all levels in Asia.
    12. Regulatory environment – not as strict as in the West.
    13. Education – less creative learning in Asia than in the West.
    14. Hierarchy – bosses in Asia find it harder to let go, to empower their staff.
    15. Responsibility – Asian staff find it difficult to express their opinion until the boss has and then they all agree!

    Following agreement of the 15 dynamics I asked respondents to rank their “Top 6” in order of importance and I then assigned scores to the “Top 6” i.e. 6 points for the No1 challenge down to 1 point for the No 6 challenge to ascertain importance.

    Whilst the research is not in any way finished yet there are some clear differences to what Western consultants think to that of Asian consultants e.g.

    • Change Awareness is a clear inhibiting factor as cited by Asian consultants but Western consultants don’t see this aspect as important (I have yet to get under the skin of this).
    • Also there are some consistencies starting to emerge e.g. Change Awareness and Hierarchy are clear leaders followed by Responsibility, Cultural Integrity, Consensus and Education.

    What do you think?

    See these topics in the Free Management Library:

  • Organizational Change
  • Organization Development
  • Consulting