Sunday, March 30, 2014

New Chinese Wisdom, Part 1: On Chinese Creativity

The campus in Langrun Garden at Peking University, Beijing

Weiming Lake at Peking University, Beijing

[This is the first article in a four-part series on Chinese culture, business, and education from a visiting Westerner's perspective.]

Both Westerners and Chinese occasionally say that Chinese lack creativity. Chinese are quick and generous in praising American ingenuity and in admonishing themselves for falling short in this department.

I disagree. A look at Peking University's charming Langrun Garden (above left) or stunning centerpiece, Weiming Lake (above right) reveals the Chinese passion for aesthetic value and their skill at creating it. Given the space, time, and capital, Chinese hands can fashion with a singular facility what the abundant Chinese mind envisions.

The Report Writing and Presentation Skills class that I teach for the Beijing International MBA program also demonstrates Chinese inventiveness. My students proved their vivid imagination in how they developed high-impact PowerPoint decks and delivered engaging presentations in English, in spite of language barriers.

Westerners who think they have a creative edge over the Chinese would be well advised to visit them on their home turf, where divergent cultures and language barriers do not inhibit their artistry.