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Grey is good – There are no fish in clean water

Jon Geldart shares another lesson from the front line of Chinese business.

The Chinese chairmen reminded us that managing ambiguity and ‘grey’ is a long tradition in China. Acceptance of things not being black and white but requiring real insights and lateral thinking was a strong observation. There was recognition that things are often not as they first seem in China and the advice to westerners was to learn to deal with ambiguity and ‘grey’ and to balance thinking outside the usual western way. One leader reminded us of the Chinese saying… ‘There are no fish in clean water’. Perhaps a reference to the need for us to remember that developments in China are not without their complexities and challenges. The Chinese business practices are just very different from those elsewhere and business leaders we spoke to also shared the concerns over corruption and poor governance. They too support the leadership in government as it seeks to stamp out the bad practices which have become all too common in many areas of public and private business dealings.