|Jim Collins: And the idea of being, if you think about it, the kind of essential idea is, you've got this yin and yang, right? You've got something that continues and something's that's about change; something that's preserved, something that's going forward; something that's about values that hold constant and something that practices strategy and structures that change. And I think the real task, is to be very clear on the difference between practices and values.
If you take for example, the question, you would know this better than I do, but let's just say, a company like Hewlett Packard, had one of its values being a really deep abiding respect for the individual, sort of as a given. And the interesting question for me would be, what are the cultural practices of how you respect the individual in China, or Japan, or India, or Russia as distinct from Idaho?
And my suspicion is the way you show respect, which in Idaho means, I have a lot of space around me and you leave me alone, unless we need to talk, which is a very American, very individualistic, definition of respect for the individual.
Without knowing the culture, I suspect the way you show respect in China would be different. So what you have, is the same value, but you have to have a different practice, when you go to a different part of world.
And the ones that have been able to do this well, and I think this applies for China going out to the rest of world as well, we want to carry our values with us anywhere we go. But, we may have to be very nuanced and adaptive in our practices, so the value, we're not compromising our values, but we're changing our practices depending upon the local setting. And vice versa.
If I were to go to Japan and carry a certain set of values, I don't necessarily want to bring American practices. I might want to bring my company's values, but I really need to adapt to Japanese practices. That I think is the crux of how you do this and to be very clear on the difference between values and practice.
You mentioned something earlier and I think this is a key idea, not necessarily in other parts of the world. One of the ways, which civilization, a society, a company, a university, a religion gets tripped up, is that it confuses value with tradition. And if we start to think that tradition, traditions are important, but if we start to think that the traditions are the values (then we have problems).
And what you have to hold onto is, a set of traditions. The traditions cover up the values and the constant sort of self-renewal of any organization, or society, or system, human system, has to be that, you know, traditions have got to change. But, the best way to change them is we hold that there are certain things that are, our values. So that now, we can be free to change our traditions.
Look at the evolution of, (for example) in the United States we have a constantly evolving religious community, as we see particularly with Protestant Christianity. All these different strengths and you look at the rise of the mega churches and you look at rise of each generation and new wave of pastors. And what you find is that they're really following different practices than the generation before them. They would bring in all sorts of strange music and lots of lights and all sorts of things. But, what you would see, if it's holding together you'd see a continuity of values, but you would see each generation bring in new set of practices rather than being wedded to a set of traditions.
And you were describing to me the 5,000 years of Chinese civilization and this tension (between tradition and change). And what strikes me that, and (here we have) the quest for values again, is to able to say, no, what we need to do is, it's the 21st century so we have to have our values, but we have to evolve our traditions.