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An Eastern angle on organizational development...

  • Apr 3, 2007
In the United States, organizational development, or "coaching" courses, are fairly common. Whether they stick or make a difference is another story, but the process and concepts are generally understood to be desirable. But in a country and culture such as China, coaching is a foreign concept. The Power of Ren: China's Coaching Phenomenon by Eva Wong and Lawrence Leung offers up an approach that is becoming increasingly successful, as well as changing the ways that businesses function. This book will appeal more towards those with an Eastern philosophical bent, but it's interesting to see how coaching concepts can bridge cultural gaps.

Part 1 - People, Not Issues: The Human Touch
Part 2 - Ren at Work: Changing Attitudes; Finding Opportunities in Crisis; From Chaos to Prosperity; Revolutionizing Retailing; From Management to Leadership; Going to the Mountain; Living out a Prophesy; Believing in Coaching; From Rags to Riches
Part 3 - The Tao of Ren - Nine-Dot Leadership: Making Dreams a Reality
Postscript by Lawrence Leung; Index

Ren is characterized by the Chinese word for "human". The character resembles a person standing sideways, and the base character makes up many of the characters related to humanity. It's the focus on the human element of business that makes Ren different than the status quo, which is sacrifice to the group direction with no questioning of leadership. The Ren At Work section of the book is made up of various stories involving Wong's efforts to turn around Chinese companies that were floundering. She faced many obstacles in her journey, including rigid dictatorial management and gender bias. But through perseverance and results, she was able to capture the hearts of the workers. This dramatic change in the work force often caused management to reassess their own styles, and the results were remarkable. Even businesses that had been successful were often not agile enough to change based on the business climate. Applying Ren coaching to the situation invariably allowed the business to reclaim and recapture that initial energy and force.

The Tao of Ren section gets into the actual coaching program and the philosophies that underlie it. The "Two Aspects" (Knowledge/Skills and Belief/Attitude) and "Three Pillars" (Why, What, and How) are based on the two brushstrokes and three terminal points of the ren character. These philosophies are then expanded into something called "9-dot Leadership", based on the old puzzle of connecting a 3x3 grid of dots with non-overlapping straight lines. This can't be done unless you think "outside the box" and extend your lines beyond the borders. These nine dots are given labels - Passion, Commitment, Responsibility, Win-win, Enrollment, Appreciation, Trust, Giving, and Possibilities. She goes on to explain how each of these traits needs to be present in order to find optimal working relationships with each other, and to lead in such a way as to guarantee success.

The layout of this book is likely to be a tough read for a Western mindset. The first half of the book is entirely focused on the "results" of Ren coaching, with little explanation as to what it is. In fact, I started to wonder if I was ever *going* to find that out. The second half of the book answers those questions, but in a far more introspective fashion than what I'm used to in a self-improvement book. It's not a "do this, this, and this" program. It's more a deeper examination of one's self and how it blends into the whole of the group culture. If this is your first exposure to organizational improvement material (and you're a typical Westerner), you'll probably struggle. But for those who have studied the subject and want a different cultural angle, it provides a unique look.

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Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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About this book


China’s phenomenal rise in economic power has amazed the world. While manufacturing operations have developed at lightning speed, the business environment has evolved more slowly. Many companies are struggling to decide where they are going, how to manage their operations more effectively, and how to establish win-win relationships with customers and other companies.

Working in the world's fastest growing economy, largest population and most ancient culture, Eva Wong, Chairman and President of Top Human Group, has spent 10 years developing, practicing and refining the Ren Coaching Model.

The Power of Ren: China’s Coaching Phenomenon traces the development of this unique coaching technology and offers a fresh perspective of coaching by applying a fusion of Western management principles and ancient Eastern philosophies to a Chinese environment. Packed with fascinating case studies of Chinese companies and individuals that turned their businesses and personal lives around through coaching, The Power of Ren also offers valuable insights that make China an economic powerhouse.

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ISBN-10: 0470822155
ISBN-13: 978-0470822159
Author: Eva Wong
Publisher: Wiley

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