Morning Woe

Mornings are not my friend. Never have been. If I had my way, the day would start around 11 and sail on past midnight. But some changes in my schedule that began last August have become habit and I now rise pretty much every day at 4:47 a.m. (well 4:45 seemed so middle-of-the-nightish) and continue on until I collapse around 10 at night. I try to keep to this schedule lest I fall back into my old ways (meaning my bed) which is how I have come to be writing this in the 5 a.m. hour of Sunday, February 24th. So when the sky and the coffee are both real dark and the world is real quiet, what does one contemplate?

China. Yes the subject of my ponderings is that country of 1.3 billion people half way around the world. It’s almost 7 p.m. in Beijing right now and I’m thinking about the Middle Kingdom for a number of reasons. First, I finally got to analyze the International Trade Commission’s decision on the importation of Chinese curtainwall yesterday. And second was the article in Bloomberg Business Week about the proliferation of Chinese computer hackers into the United States that I finished with my first cup of java this morning. The article detailed a level of sophistication and penetration way beyond what most experts thought was possible. “If you think you are not the target of hacking, you are wrong,” it declares emphatically.

A number of characteristics emerge from a reading of both. Though generalizing, it is pretty easy to see that the Chinese are very patient, very determined and strong strategic thinkers who utilize a “seven generation” strategy.

Let me explain what that is. It’s a corruption of a Native American story I heard about leadership many years ago. Leadership, it goes, is measured by the generation you worry about. The average person worries about three generations at most, meaning himself, his children and maybe his grandchildren. But the true leader makes decisions and choices for seven generations forward even when they bring tough consequences for the current one.

It’s clear to see a seven generation strategy in both the way hackers work and the filings around the curtainwall decision. Those who wrote against imposing sanctions focused on the definition of curtainwall and how it was assembled. You can clearly see an attempt to keep the definition of the assemblies to which it applies very narrow and very focused. The arguments and subsequent decisions codify limitations and narrow the scope. Those wishing to find ways around the decision have helped to set them up. It won’t be long before some changes in design and entry will allow those seeking to do so to find ways around the anti-dumping laws in legal ways.

Am I comparing Chinese curtainwall manufacturers to Chinese hackers? No, that is not my intent and I understand the consequences of a truly global economy. Yet I can see strong characteristics of tenacity, singularity of focus and perseverance in both. And, as both my morning reads show, these are characteristics that can be used for good – or for evil.

Have a good week.