Organization design in China

I've been asked to go and facilitate an organization design two-day training program in China next year. Accepting it has had the effect of making me really take a closer look at several aspects of the design of the program. I already have a two day program that I lead for the UK's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in London. I've run it over at least 4 years now and it's progressively become more popular – in the first couple of years it ran twice each year. Last year a third set of dates was offered, as was this year, and next year will also be three sessions.

So an invitation to China seems to be following a trend that HR people need to know about organization design – a trend reinforced by the fact that organization design is now a specifically required competence area for CIPD certification, and features on their HR Profession Map.

Thinking about teaching it in China, I'm now mulling over three aspects:

1) Being in China – do I need to learn any Mandarin, should I allow time for sightseeing, touring the cities (Beijing and Shanghai), who do I know there who I can visit, how long does it take to get a visa?

On the language piece I'm looking at the BBC Real Chinese which is straightforward and seems doable in the time I've got available. I've ordered the Moon Guide to Shanghai and Beijing – I've enjoyed other Moon Guides, and I've alerted several people I know who live in either of the cities.

2) Business in China – what would make understandable case studies, is business in China very different from business in the UK/US, what are the preoccupations of line managers, HR people? I'm enjoying working through these – looking at (predominantly) US companies that are expanding into China, for example Best Buy, Starbucks, Yum, McDonalds, companies that have tried with less success to develop there (Marks & Spencer), and companies that are thinking of going there, as well as Chinese companies who are home based and moving out. There's a wealth of information available. It's making sense of it to convert into a training program that I'm working on now.

Here I'm following the China Law Blog getting a daily email briefing on companies in Asia-Pacific from the Financial Times and reading the Economist country briefing as well as anything else people recommend.

3) Organization design competence – what level are the people I will be working with, will I have to adapt the language and concepts, do they want theory or practical applications?

On this I'm partly relying on the organization that's invited me, asking them questions about the attendees, the programs that have gone down well in the past, the type of approach they're looking for, and so on. Additionally I'm quizzing people who've worked in China, who have taught programs there, and who have done business there.

So I'm hoping that I'm on the right track to give participants a good program that they enjoy and learn from – any further tips would be welcome.

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