AmCham Meets with Control Yuan

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Concerned about the low level of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan in recent years compared with other countries in the Asia Pacific, the government’s Control Yuan has set up a task force to look into the reasons and propose solutions. The four Control Yuan members making up the task force – Chang Kuei-Mei, Nancy Hsiao-Hung Chen, Lee Yueh-Der, and Liu Te-Hsun – invited representatives from AmCham Taipei and other foreign and domestic business organizations for a discussion of the issue on May 19.

The Control Yuan, one of the five branches of government in the Republic of China, is an investigatory body that monitors the other branches of government. Wikipedia compares it roughly to the Government Accountability Office of the United States, the Court of Auditors of the European Union, a political ombudsman, or a standing commission for administrative inquiry. After completing its study, the task force on FDI plans to submit a report for the reference of the Executive Yuan.

At the May 19 meeting, AmCham Taipei was represented by Senior Director of Government & Public Affairs Amy Chang and Government & Public Affairs Director Katrina Ku. Other organizations that participated in the session were the European Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, the Chinese National Federation of Industries, and the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association.

The business representatives mentioned the complicated regulatory process and Taiwan’s lack of Free Trade Agreements with major trading partners as factors that tend to retard investment.

What is real “Disruptive Innovation?” 

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Not every innovation or novel idea is disruptive. Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School—the man responsible for the framework behind “disruptive innovation”— describes disruption as a situation when a company—often with fewer resources—successfully challenges market leaders with more resources in a unique way.

Christensen recently made a plea to the business community to not misapply the concept, as it makes it more difficult to identify disruptive opportunities in our own industries.

So how does disruption really happen?

Established companies tend to focus their resources on their most profitable customers, often neglecting those that are less profitable and less demanding.

New, disruptive entrants find a way to satisfy the ignored group of customers, by serving them at much lower price points. Established companies ignore these minor segments because they represent such a small percentage of their profits.

However, disruption occurs when these new players continuously improve their product and service offerings. They begin to appeal to mainstream customers by offering superior quality at a much lower price.

disruption occurs when these new players continuously improve their product and service offerings. They begin to appeal to mainstream customers by offering superior quality at a much lower price.

Some familiar examples of disruptive innovators include:

At its outset, YouTube was simply a free and convenient tool for regular people to post and share personal videos online. Today “viral videos” have become the holy grail of marketers and content producers around the world, while YouTube rakes in billions in online advertising every year.

 

Originally a free peer-to-peer voice calling platform developed by Estonian hackers, Skype has become a household name (even a commonly used verb) in online voice and video communication, and was recently acquired by Microsoft for over US$8 billion.

Skype today is a market leader and readily competes with long-established players in the VOIP and telecommunications industry.

A company doesn’t have to be a start-up to be disruptive.

But start-ups have the advantage of being able to radically change the cost structure of a business, a key component of true disruption.

Youtube let content producers distribute media for free online, where traditional video channels had extremely high barriers to entry.

Skype’s peer-to-peer technology circumvented the traditional phone networks and drastically lowered the cost to make international calls, snatching market share from global telecom providers.

Apple – the outlier

Apple is an example of an established company that was able to completely disrupt the software industry. The 2007 introduction of the “App store” ushered in a new era of cheap software:

Smaller developers could potentially reach a huge market with virtually no distribution costs, and app users could easily find new (and affordable) software to meet their needs.

This radical transformation of the software industry has forced many other tech giants to follow Apple’s lead, and has redefined the way consumers think about software in the 21st century.

The takeaway – three keys to remember about disruptive innovation:

  1. Disruption is a process. It is not an event.
  2. Disruptors often begin by building a new business model.
  3. Not every disruptive path leads to success. Like every other form of innovation, disruptive innovation comes with its own risks.

For further reading on disruption, try these resources:

HBR: “What is Disruptive Innovation?” (https://goo.gl/PwMsnF)

Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (http://amzn.to/1YAwzRv)

 

By William Zyzo (2016). William is the Advisor of the Advance Learning Lab at AmCham in Taipei. He is also the Managing Director of Z&A Knowledge Solutions, a firm specializing in providing performance solutions to executives and senior managers in multinational corporations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and China. You can reach him at [email protected]

 

How to Ace your First 90 days in a New Leadership Role

The good news about transitioning into a new leadership role is that it gives you a chance to start fresh.

The bad news? A transition is a lot like an organ transplant. You, the new leader, are the new organ. Your host body must accept you—or else.

There are benfits and risks involved in a new leadership position. The main benefit is that the leader has a chance to to re-invent herself; a chance to recharge and fall in love with her work again.

The risk? Things can become overwhelming if the leader is missing a map to guide her through the first ninety days in her new position. Why ninety days? That’s the time most organizations give new people to build relationships, gain trust, and establish their credentials.

Most organizations give new people 90 days to build relationships, gain trust, and establish credentials.

The most common reason for host bodies rejecting their new organs comes from a leader’s failing to understand what people in the organization (her leaders and the people she leads) really want.

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It is a mistake to accept at face value what those people tell her during the initial meet-and-greet. The new leader still needs to discover for herself what the people in her organization truly want and expect from her.

It is a mistake to accept at face value what you learn during your first interactions with new team members.

If you have just joined a new company in a leadership role or have been promoted into a managerial role for the first time, here’s a checklist of keys to your success:

    1. Discover the true expectations of your boss, your team, and the people outside your team whose support you need
    2. Develop an action plan for creating outcomes that will determine your success
    3. Identify the key metrics that will be used to evaluate your performance: both by your boss and your team members
    4. Implement your action plan and monitor its progress, eliminating, dampening, or side-stepping obstacles that are getting in your way
    5. Revise your action plan based on the outcome you are able and unable to create

Without a clear map of priorities, many new leaders soon lose their way. Come evaluation time, they have only partially completed initiatves, and little to show in terms of concrete business results.

To prevent yourself from falling into this trap, make a list of key questions and actions — and then put them into three categories:

Preparatory:
What should I know and get done before I step into this new role?

Immediate: 
What should I do as soon as I step into this new role? This list should include items you must finish before the first month is out.

Future Goals:
What should I finish before the first ninety days are over or before performance evaluation, whichever comes first?

Prioritize the items in each list and get the top item done before moving on to the next. Each time you’re finished with an item, reassess the items on the list—do not automatically go to the next item, as priorities can change over time.

Always reassess your priorities, as they can change over time.

How do you decide which items are your top priority?

In most cases, it should be the item that is most important and urgent for your boss, your team members, and other key stakeholders outside your team.

Find out if your organization can assign you a mentor or coach. Many first-time leaders try to go it alone, but you will be glad to have support from somone familiar with the whole journey.

If you do not have such support in your new organization, these books are excellent resources for learning the necessary skills to succeed in your first 90 days.

The first will help you prepare your action plan; the second, get things done.

The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins (http://amzn.to/1XC61zh)

Getting Things Done, Dave Allen (http://amzn.to/1XC6mlt)

This is a guest post for the AmCham Advanced Learning Lab by William Zyzo (2016). William is the Advisor of the Advance Learning Lab at AmCham in Taipei. He is also the Managing Director of Z&A Knowledge Solutions, a firm specializing in providing performance solutions to executives and senior managers in multinational corporations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and China. William can be reached at [email protected]

AmCham Tours Dihua Street

The AmCham Travel & Tourism Committee hosted a special event on May 13, where Commissioner Yu-yen Chien of the Department of Information & Tourism of Taipei City 台北市政府觀光傳播局 簡余晏局長 delivered a presentation and hosted a Q&A session before guests were taken on a guided walking tour of the historic Dihua street area.

 

View the full photo gallery here.

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Dihua Street is located in Datong District of Taipei City, with a total length of 800 meters. The street was built in the 1850s as a major trading center for Chinese herbs and medicines, dried goods, fabrics, and teas since it is near the Dadaocheng port. Since 1996, it has become a market place for Chinese New Year grocery shopping. Dihua Street is also a popular tourist attraction with historical architectures in traditional Fujian, Baroque and western styles.

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This event was a special opportunity for AmCham members to engage with Taipei government agencies and take part in a unique format of interactive event. To learn more about AmCham events, and to see the upcoming event schedule, click here. 

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AmCham Committees Connect with USTR

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One of AmCham Taipei’s most important functions is to provide a channel for the concerns of member companies to be communicated, through the Chamber’s committees, to the U.S. government.

Throughout the year there are numerous opportunities to interact with the Economic and Commercial Sections of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and the annual Doorknock visit to Washington is a chance to meet with the key executive-branch agencies and Congressional offices interested in U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relations.

Another such opportunity arises when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) send a delegation to Taiwan, which often occurs in the lead-up to the annual bilateral negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Such a delegation was in Taipei for a week toward the end of April, consisting of officers from USTR, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the AIT Washington office.

AmCham Taipei arranged for a series of meetings at which committee leaders briefed the U.S. government visitors on the latest developments in their sectors. The schedule included meetings covering the following topics:

  • Administrative Procedure Act
  • Agriculture
  • Imports & exports
  • Food safety
  • Retail
  • Intellectual Property & Licensing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Devices
  • Foreign investment
  • Private Equity

On behalf of the American delegation, Monica He of USTR expressed thanks to AmCham for providing a wide-ranging and thorough explanation of current issues. The 2016 round of the TIFA talks is expected to take place this fall.

The International Golf Society of Taipei

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The International Golf Society of Taipei (IGST) is a social group that arranges golfing and social events for all those interested in golf and making new friends.

Taiwan has many beautiful courses but arrangements can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak Chinese. IGST has 100 members of all nationalities, ages and genders. A transparent handicap system ensures golfers of all skills enjoy playing together. Learn more about the IGST here.

Non-golfing partners are welcome at social events. The regular season runs from March to November with games on two Saturdays each month.

Other opportunities include a winter playing schedule, annual overseas trip, the Taiwan Cup against Taichung and Kaohsiung golf societies, ad hoc games with other members and invitations to other golf events. See the full schedule of upcoming IGST events here. 

View the photo gallery at www.taiwan-golf.com  or EMail:   [email protected]

IGST is also a sponsor of the upcoming 2016 AmCham Golf Scramble tournament on May 27. Click here for more details and registration

Vice-President-elect Attends AmCham Event on Biotech

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On April 21, AmCham hosted Vice-President-elect Chen Chien-Jen at a special luncheon event, Opportunities and Challenges for Taiwan to Become a Biotech Hub in Asia. Dr. Chen sent a strong signal to the AmCham community that the new administration is committed to creating a favorable environment for biotech in Taiwan.

Dr. Chen was joined by other members of the newly minted cabinet, including Minister-designate of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien, Minister-designate of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung, and Minister without Portfolio-designate Wu Tsung-tsong.

Sponsored jointly by the Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, and Public Health committees, the luncheon held at the Sherwood Hotel featured presentations by AmCham chairman Dan Silver and standing Vice-Chairman Margaret Driscoll.

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Silver kicked off the event with an overview of the latest advances in medical devices. Bringing together IT, big data, and mechanical and biological engineering, they promised better and more cost-effective healthcare.

Silver observed that Taiwan is well-positioned to leverage its strengths in medicine and IT for a bright future in biotech, provided that Taiwan can provide a regulatory environment that facilitates innovation.

Taiwan is well-positioned to leverage its strengths in medicine and IT for a bright future in biotech, provided that Taiwan can provide a regulatory environment that facilitates innovation.

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Driscoll’s presentation on the pharmaceutical industry noted the lengthy time frames and high costs of developing new drugs, and observed that Taiwan’s highly innovative biotech industry would benefit from developing partnerships with multinationals to build global competitiveness.

Some highlights from luncheon and Q&A include:

  • The new administration is “not waiting for May 20 (Inauguration Day)” but is already working with the outgoing administration and the Legislative Yuan to increase support for biotech.
  • The new government pledges to accelerate the review of clinical trials and supports a bill that has been submitted to the Legislative Yuan to reorganize the Center for Drug Evaluation to speed up the approval process for new drug applications.
  • An inter-ministry task force on biotech will be created, coordinated by Minister without Portfolio-designate Wu and including representatives from the Ministries of Health and Welfare, Economic Affairs, and Science and Technology.
  • The new administration is looking to increase collaboration between Taiwanese biotech firms and multinationals as well as among research institutions, government, and corporations to expand Taiwan’s overall biotech industry.