Chinese lanterns

Happy New Year greetings from Shanghai

Impact’s Head of Asia, Phil Holdsworth, looks at the year ahead and what it means for organisations in Asia.


The 2016 Chinese New Year celebrations begin on the 8th February and 2016 is the Year of The Monkey, the 9th animal of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. But it’s not just a Monkey year, it is a Fire Monkey year which occurs only once every 60 years.

Traditionally this combination would predict a year of disturbance, frustration, conflict and disharmony. Sounds great!

There is also considerable discussion and media coverage around the slowing of the Chinese economy and drops in GDP growth. As we begin a new year in the current climate will the reality match the characteristics of a fire monkey?

I believe it’s worth noting that China is slowing down, not reversing and I cannot help but think that this was inevitable. Many businesses and countries will or should have been expecting and preparing for it. Are we being too pessimistic? Are we, through our half glass empty mindsets creating the conditions for failure and not the conditions for success? If one of the many, many supercars I see in Shanghai goes from 200mph to 198mph it is still going impressively and excitingly fast. Is this not also the case for the current economic situation in China?

The deceleration in China will and is certainly bringing challenging times with it. But it is also bringing a level of stability that has been lacking. Many people like change but no one likes the unpredictability of chaos. China has the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others such as Japan, Brazil or Russia. They crashed. China (if it chooses as it appears to be doing) can use more of a controlled and smooth braking process and by doing so help their neighbours and trade partners do the same.

For me horoscopes are often self-fulfilling prophesies. If I read that I am going to have a good day, I have a good day because I look for and focus on the good things. If it tells me I’m going to have a bad day I inevitably focus on what is not going well, ignoring all the good things and then say “I knew it, it’s what my horoscope predicted”.

The managers and leaders in Asia-based organisations have a choice - they can let the Fire Monkey be that self-fulfilling prophesy or they can embrace the challenges and seek the opportunities that they bring. In times like these (or any times) employees want and need leaders who can provide a clear direction, creating conditions of realistic optimism, positivity, opportunity and belief.

Today is an absolutely beautiful and stunning day in Shanghai. The sun is out, the sky is blue and the pollution has been blown away by the winds of change. “I feel good, I feel good, and I knew that I would now” to quote James Brown.

May we all have a happy and prosperous Year of the Monkey.