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Foxconn in Wisconsin: Start Driving, Then Figure it Out



Mixed messages and confusion over the Foxconn project in Wisconsin continue to fill the news…I thought in this context it would be helpful to recount a story about the difference in the Chinese way of planning compared to western ways…

Let’s say you are in Chicago… If you tell a western team to drive to Cleveland, the first thing that happens is they ask you, “Okay, why should we go to Cleveland?” That’s because they want to understand why first, and then they start to plan… They do all their planning before they start to drive…in China, it’s the opposite. When you tell them to drive to Cleveland, the team jumps in the car and starts driving immediately. While they are driving, they figure out where to fill up the gas, and whether they have everything they need with them…

…what happens quite often is while you are on your way to Cleveland, which is to the east, after two hours of driving you get a call that tells you, “no, I want you to drive to Madison instead…” in Chinese business culture, you make an immediate turn without asking and start driving west instead…

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