What is the cultural secret behind the rapid growth of the Chinese economy? How do they do business? Can we try to understand the Chinese mindset? The most important thing we learned is the amazing ability to deal with conflicting principles. Pragmatic, trial & error, quick response and problem solving are characteristics of how the Chinese organize work, which makes them very flexible. But, on the other hand, hierarchy is very important too.

Networking is the key in Chinese business: Who you know is more important than what you know. You can only do business based on trust and relationships, not on contracts or the rule of law.

But although networking is important, the Chinese also have a strong understanding of their in-group and the rest. The latter are of no importance unless you can use them for your own benefit. As we know about Chinese people all over the world, they are all entrepreneurs and very competitive. Your co-worker is also your competitor and you will only work together if there is a mutual benefit, not because of a shared goal.

Making money is highly valued in society: if you are successful then show it! Drive that Audi 8L, drink expensive cocktails and buy Gucci bags. The Western lifestyle is appealing to them. But China is also changing, they are not only copying products, but developing innovations and their own brands. They develop more pride, more international focus and even want to work on their public behavior and rule of law.

For the logical thinking mind of a European it is difficult to understand the acceptance of duality in the Chinese mindset: yes and no can exist together – as we know it from Yin & yang. They can accept that things contradict and still deal with it. This is what makes the Chinese very ready for the VUCA-world…