Our culture is based around brands and protecting IP and patents. We firmly believe, in our culture, that patents, trademarks and IP should protect the holder, even if the practicalities behind it are less than perfect.
Yet culturally, China is at complete odds to our protectionist systems. They believe in sharing IP and collaboration. Brands have no value and trademarks do not exist. While patents exist, they are only a method of documenting a companies worth.
When the west sees China “rip off” products and create clones, we fundamentally believe they are being dishonest and are corrupt. Yet, we don’t understand that the Chinese culture inherently believes in sharing. If a factory has a patented design for a new product they have been contracted to produce, they will happily copy it and send it to their colleagues to create a different or better version. Cultural morals aside, this is an effective way to evolve and create new products.
In China, the view is, “Don’t worry about somebody copying you by stealing your patented designs. By the time somebody has taken the time to engineer a copy, you should have a new version which is better and makes the copy less competitive. If you don’t, you don’t deserve to succeed.”
This difference is fundamental and if we are less enlightened, we assume that this copying is dishonest according to our own culture. Yet by the Chinese culture, the concept of protecting a brand or IP is unfathomable and perhaps sinister.
My core values initially made me dismiss this point of view, but then I tried to understand the argument and eventually, with some difficulty accepted the different point of view and incorporated it in my mind set.
This is true disruption, the changing of one’s own predefined mind set and value system. I haven’t compromised my values, I haven’t made them untenable, yet I have embraced an alien concept and incorporated it into my philosophy. I can then choose which path to follow at any given moment based on circumstance and environment.
My previous view was not wrong before and this new concept is not definitely right, both are valid views and both can be accepted even if they are juxtaposed and at odds with each other.
Right and wrong are often cultural doctrines and not absolutes.
Or, sometimes, both sides are right!