In the middle of election activities from around Asia I am compelled to share with you a bit about how the effects of these elections can and should influence your decision to do business here.

ImageI want to start out by saying that Spandex isn’t for everyone.  While you may be able to fit your shape into the form hugging material it isn’t right for everyone.  In fact it often shows much more what would be best to be kept secret.  The elections are taking steps in the right direction, they are far from perfect but I would argue that they are equally challenging even in Western countries where the term ‘Democratic Process’ is unrelenting challenged each and every election (despite pretty good controls to restrict fraud potential).  With that said anyone business looking to step beyond its shores, especially into the Asian landscape, must reconcile and recognize that its not all bad… but it remains a work in process.

The Spandex in the Asian countries resides in the commerce element.  Businesses in progressive countries with an ambitious agenda have in place incentives to encourage commerce development and foreign direct investment.  Like Spandex, it gives us an appreciation that maybe, just maybe, we have to do a bit of work in order to make our form be true unto itself.  That squeeze into the flexible material bring to the surface the realization that we have to work at it.  In other words, if it fits it doesn’t mean that looking better will not require hard work.  Any country who sets an easy entry and development agenda is setting a bad tone for durable and lasting commerce.  A little work, and mutual sharing of effort, is where the right outcomes can be realized.

Spandex can hide both good and bad realities.  On one hand the fit works, maybe the frame isn’t all that majestic but it may mask situations and conditions that need to be known.  I recently had a person make mention about the importance of doing a sound investigation of foreign businesses.  Totally and without reservation agree.  So why is it that we get ourselves into a problem when it comes to these so called investigated companies?  To a small extent we get distracted by the persona presented.  Information is taken at face value without suitable corroboration.  Likewise we accept some information and confirm it when


we all know that nothing is apt to be discovered (like customer references…. do you really think anyone would give a ‘bad/unacceptable’ one??).   The other, more common problem resides in the fact that foreign business relationships are not a regular everyday occurrence.  We simply don’t do enough of them to have crafted solid experience.  Add to this the poison of a frail and inadequate evaluation framework and voila we have a formula ripe for chaos.  While the country may be moving in a positive and constructive fashion, the climate may be such that easy entry creates not so sound and viable businesses.  For the last 25 years I have been involved with over 500 viability assessments using a framework that was created.  This insured consistency, comparative abilities and completeness as it relates to the measuring the durability of a business regardless of where it is.  It also helped to raise up those elements, native to the country or region, that were unique and required special handling.  Few companies have these sorts of tools, but there again… is such a tool really needed given the number of relationships being established (or do you simply utilize what someone has already crafted to fulfill your mission)?

ImageSo back to Asian voting in the year 2013.  My comments and observations are made in contrast against my country of citizenship.  This doesn’t mean that we are right or hold the magic answer, it is far from it.  But when I hear and see election result discontent, and the finger is pointed to voting fraud, I can’t help but want to wonder why the anger is placed on the outcome and not focused on the means to reduce fraud potential.  I asked the question, “why not have automated voter registration systems to track registrations and voting” and the reply was the lack of automation.  This I found a bit interesting given that these are countries promoting the technological and intellectual talents but are still stuck in the era of paper, pencils, and ink placed on a finger tip to reflect whether someone has voted or has not.  It begs not just a question about change but whether there is the ability to think beyond the norm to solve problems, not perpetuate them.

Having visited nearly every Asian country over the last four decades, and now living here, I have learned to accept what is.  But this doesn’t get in the way of putting a bit of energy into guiding them in how they can become better.  For some nations, this change is so painful that its has little possibility of becoming a reality.  For others its the appreciation that the hard work to fit into the Spandex and look excellent will require work but its all worth the effort.