Fighting the HQ Knows Best Syndrome

HQ knows best syndromeI saw Josh Gardner on Linkedin mention the HQ Knows Best Syndrome. I laughed as that is a real problem in Western Companies who have a leader in China.

In Lean 6 Sigma we learn that information and innovation comes from the bottom up in great organizations. However, in China things are a lot different than in the West as I note here week after week.    Often the leader, be he Chinese or Western, is in a conundrum. He or she can do it a way that works in China or the way the HQ wants it.  Doing it the way HQ wants is not practical and slows everything down, but it can get the praise of Headquarters. Finally, results lag and HQ may get rid of this person that followed them well.

Of course doing it the Chinese way makes the company HQ uneasy or downright crazy. How do we overcome this? Lots of Western Leaders in China spend an inordinate amount time talking to HQ to make sure they all stay connected.   HQ wants to know, but without a lot of effort, they misunderstand, and that makes too much trouble.

Ah, Let’s Get to Flexible on HQ Knows Best Syndrome

Trust is a key issue. A trusted person can do “strange” things and be accepted if the company is not prone to politics.

Notably, Chinese people who get hired as the point person for a Western company in China often will just cover up everything possible. Many are not working for you actually. or at least not foremost for you. They have good reason to hide, and to avoid detection, they will often say, “This is China.”

This does bring up that you hire people in China, so they can adjust to your way. So a kind of s contradiction exists. Let’s resolve

I believe your main point is you want someone to share your values and do it your way in terms of values and even cost.  You may want to read, Getting Tested by Craft Managers in China.

A China hire that is technically competent could give you some sense of trusting in doing things a new way. Finding one who clearly is trustworthy can give you a lot more confidence.

We find you people with both these things as see you need both. When you have both these things, you have more chance to be flexible in China and not just want to do it the Western way.

Finally, never forget what companies often forget, that values should in line with you.


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Posted in: China Recruitment - Getting Good People

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