China's Gray Rhinos
I am so excited to share with you that Citic Publishing Group has just released THE GRAY RHINO in China to a flurry of media coverage. This article from Sohu does a wonderful job of applying the concept to artificial intelligence and digitization. (Use your browser to translate.)
When I started the project and was brainstorming with friends, one of the first examples that came up of a successful wrangling of highly probable, high impact gray rhinos was Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform project. Some of the interviews in the book took place in China at the "Summer Davos" meeting of the World Economic Forum. China, of course, is at the forefront of dealing with some of the biggest global gray rhinos: climate change and the environment, economic imbalances, demographic shifts. So present-day China plays an important role in the book.
The country’s approach has been fascinating: a mix of state planning and market mechanisms, using medium and long term planning based on metrics rather than Soviet-styles specific prescriptions, heavy investment in clean energy, and conscious efforts to rebalance the economy to decrease reliance on exports and to increase consumer participation and domestic consumption.
But if China has been forward looking, its challenges are daunting, as its efforts to deal with pollution have shown, and because of the sheer size of its population and economy. When I compiled and filtered analysts’ top risks lists for the year ahead, China had risen to a second place rank for both economic and political concerns, particularly in light of the hawkish stance of the White House and of the upcoming 19th Party Congress. Political change always brings uncertainty. Yet many of the analysts I respect believe that China will succeed in muddling through. I'll be watching closely and writing more about this in coming months.
There's a passage in THE GRAY RHINO about the importance of long-term thinking and about the many Asian companies that have been around for a century more, and actively apply strategies that look toward the future –some as long as 200 or 300 years ahead. What a welcome contrast to the short termism that prevails in the United States.
I believe that this greater emphasis on the long term is part of why Asian audiences have identified so strongly with the messages in the book.
When a reporter for a Chinese magazine asked me yesterday how I thought businesses in China might apply the lessons in THE GRAY RHINO, I responded that the recommendations for long-term strategic thinking were particularly well suited to companies not only in China but all across Asia. The bigger challenge –and thus the most important takeaway– will be to strengthen decision making processes by bringing in more diverse perspectives.
The reception of the book in the region overall has been amazing, with great news coverage not only of the China edition but also of the Korean version from Business Books & Co. The Taiwan edition comes out this spring via Commonwealth. A friend recently saw the book in the New Delhi airport.
I have always thought of THE GRAY RHINO as the beginning of a conversation that goes beyond what’s between the front and back covers of the book. In my travels later this year, I’m very much looking forward to hearing more from companies in Asia about what has resonated most with them, and how they are applying the concepts in the book. I’ll be sure to share with you what I learn.