Tuesday, March 27, 2012

China Lab: Creative Minds and Inquisitive Spirits

There were at least 40 people. I couldn’t see how big the crowd was as we were at least 50 feet away when we turned back. The protesters had multiple signs and were blocking a big intersection in Xi’an. Still in the car, I asked our iMBA partner if this was a common event in Xi’an. He told me if it were common, he wouldn’t know as news channels were not allowed to report on protesters. End of the conversation about this event. We were too far away to even know what the fuzz was about. No more questions were asked.
Experiencing the richness of a millenary culture has been a humbling experience for me. The food, the music, the architecture, the language and more importantly: the spirit and the resilience of people who are more than just past and present—they are future. There are over 1.3 billion people in China and among them—I believe—thousands and thousands of poets, writers, painters, thinkers, journalists, musicians: artists and intellectuals who live and act with no regard of conventional rules of behaviors. As we took a turn in our way to meet our client that morning, I couldn’t keep from wondering—Where are they? How long could this last? How long can these creative minds and inquisitive spirits be contained?

We arrived to our client and as we were presenting the initial data from our employee’s survey, something started bothering me. When we confidently said that 80% of the people agree or strongly agree with the statement “I feel comfortable approaching my direct supervisor when something is bothering me” as a highlight, I couldn’t keep but questioning our own data. Was this true? Were people comfortable expressing their opinions? We made sure the surveys were distributed and answered anonymously. There was no way to keep track of the answers to specific individuals. I had zero evidence to think otherwise. I decided not to bring the topic to the conversation and we kept the flow. The presentation ended and we started drafting our next set of goals for the project. No more questions were asked.

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