John Chan

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This review was submitted by jhbchina.






  Success is simple, use common sense. 

This book exceeds the MT criteria of having three actionable concepts that a manager can immediately understand and quickly apply in their assignments. 

China Streetsmart is easily one of the top five books senior management of a multinational corporation must read if given the assignment of evaluating the China option. This book is straight forward with several key actionable items that a person can apply to their strategy for managing their objectives before and after starting operations in China. 

The foundation of the book is that “common business sense” is the guiding principle for doing business in China and in any country. Mr. Chan does a great job of connecting the beginning of the book with the ending, by telling the reader what he will tell you, telling you with real world examples, and then telling you what he told you.

China Streetsmart’s focus is one thing, as Mr. Chan writes “Investors go to China to make money, not become Sinologists.” The core of his book is a case study of a successful multinational company, and how the company got started in China. Throughout the company’s startup process, Mr. Chan shows how the company applied common business practices that allowed the senior management team to gather the facts so they could make informed business decisions. The book even describes how the company changed their plans when their decisions did not work out as preferred.

From Mr. Chan’s extensive research and experience in China, he has identified six simple common sense action steps to apply when doing business in China. They are:

  1. Maintain Management Consistency
  2. Be Flexible and Adaptable
  3. Be Patient and Thorough
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Be Detailed
  6. Maintain a Healthy Attitude. 

The first section of the book explains how Mr. Chan learned these rules, and how they work well for doing business in China. He also informs the reader of how to combine these rules with the Chinese culture of “Guanxi” (relationships), Chinese listening, and the importance of speaking or not speaking Chinese.

The book then moves into the case study, and is nicely broken down into easy to understand steps related to entering the China market. While Mr. Chan tells the story of Portoloa’s challenges of setting up operations in China, he regularly and clearly points out which action step they used and how. For example he wrote “The fact that Portola’s American management followed Action Step 1 (Maintain Management Consistency) probably saved them the business”.

The book’s final section has a focus on the future outlook of doing business in China, based on many economic and political factors.

In summary, Mr. Chan’s book will save you time and money, and help you avoid some basic mistakes many multinational corporations have made while doing business in China, just because they thought they had to do things differently since they were in China.