Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Business 101 Lessons: Google vs. China’s Censors, Cybercriminals



When Google quietly removed its anti-censorship warning in December 2012, it was another victory for China. Google deleted the warning for Internet users in China who were searching for politically sensitive information.

But no matter. It had become well known that Chinese officials disconnect users who search using politically sensitive phrases. But Google had made valiant efforts to deal with the Internet tyranny.

Google has been paying attention to a free-enterprise business compass. Earlier, the search engine threatened to extract itself from China over censorship and cybercrime issues. Because it’s a huge marketplace, Google and other companies had been tolerant of such problems.

ID-100291074 Stuart MilesActually, tolerating an uncontrollable, hostile environment violates principles in best-practices management. So it’s a tardy development, but let’s roll out the welcome mat.

After President Nixon bridged the diplomatic gap between the U.S. and China in 1972, companies and nations have tolerated and perhaps even encouraged China’s bad behavior.

This includes censorship, violation of human rights, intellectual-proprietary thefts, currency manipulation for cheap exports, other discriminatory-protectionism policies, and Communist Party activities.

In 2006, I wrote that I was disappointed by the decisions of Internet companies that decided to acquiesce to China’s behavior and environment.

It’s one thing to accept it, but another to condone it and build a business model around it.

My reasons:

– Values matter

– The free-enterprise system works best

– Economic and political freedoms are connected – lose one and you lose the other

Business Leadership

To be a business leader, it’s important to know who you are…what your roots are…plan strategically…and always try to do the right thing – even if your decisions and actions are unpopular.

Actually, this principle applies to all facets of life and even sports. And I love writing sports metaphors for business topics.

For example, many Seattle Seahawks’ fans were delighted with the selection of Pete Carroll as coach, especially, after his initial press conference upon being hired away from the University of Southern California. That was when he explained why he was previously unsuccessful in the NFL. By any standard, he was dominant in his tenure at USC.

Before coaching at USC, his pro football teams – the New York Jets and New England Patriots – were mediocre. It was refreshing when he admitted in Seattle that he didn’t know himself or who he was in his earlier pro jobs.

In referring to his new team he made this comment: “When we start this thing off, they’re going to know where I’m coming from, because I know where I’m coming from.” Now he coaches a dominant team.

One of his Seattle predecessors, Mike Holmgren, had success as coach of the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. But he was unsuccessful his first four years in Seattle because he was both coach and general manager. It was only after the management responsibilities were taken from him that he coached the team to the Super Bowl in 2005.

During that time, I speculated that his lack of success stemmed from the Peter Principle. In essence, people rise to their level of incompetence.

Few people are equipped to handle both responsibilities. Even if they have all the technical and management skills, their attention to detail, energy and efficiency will plummet.

So possibly, the Google brain trust needed to learn about themselves and the downsides from conducting business while abandoning their values.

Socrates was right

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates is known for his aphorism: “Know thyself.” And it’s right out of my human resources training materials.

For individuals, a complete self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses is the key to success. Once an employee knows who she or he is, then it’s possible to effectively set goals. Then, execution comes into play.

For success in business, an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will pave the way for writing a productive strategic plan and a business plan. And again, it’s important to execute.

Google’s courage will help other businesses to fully realize about the problems associated with foregoing their values in order to do business in China. Certainly, it will be a catalyst for discussion.

Google believes its security was violated by hackers based in China. But there is probably another motivation. The search giant has relatively little to lose unlike companies such as General Motors.

Again, at least Google is at least making effort in upholding corporate values, but General Motors isn’t. Buick is huge in China but it’s at the detriment of the U.S.

“U.S. automakers are essentially blocked from selling American made vehicles in China’s huge market, even though Chinese manufacturers are terribly uncompetitive,” writes noted economist Peter Morici, Ph.D.

“U.S. carmakers are compelled to form joint ventures and share knowhow with Chinese partners to produce and sell in the world’s second-largest economy,” he adds.

“These and similar restrictions steal millions of American jobs in autos and supporting industries like electronics, metals and plastics and computer software,” he explains. “Eliminating the resulting $450 billion trade deficit on oil and manufactured products would create more than 4 million new jobs directly, and at least another 2.5 million as those additional workers’ spending spread through the economy.”

Professor Morici is a faculty member at Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and his Op Ed analyses are published on this portal here and his U.S. economic forecasts are found here.

Coincidentally, American taxpayers have never been asked to bail out Google. But General Motors’ underwent a bankruptcy and got a massive bailout, and is still selling out.

Here is Google’s explanation of its new perspective in dealing with China.

See the difference between the two companies? General Motors’ management needs to look at itself in the mirror and implement better strategies to increase profits.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for related content:

Has China Prompted U.S. Tech Innovation and Funding? — There are two reasons why China has a strategic advantage over the U.S. in technology. It is No. 1 in tech sales and owns the rare-earths market. Both have serious implications for U.S. security.

How China-Google Controversy Still Affects Business, Government Security — The security issue between China and Google appears to be taking on new ramifications – threatening proprietary information for business and government agencies, if they do business with the giant search engine.

Will Manufacturing Jobs Return to U.S. from China? — Will federal, state and local governments change public policy to take advantage of economic developments in China?

“The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.”

-Tommy Smothers

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.