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The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter

The Power Trap
In my role as business consultant I meet many people in power positions. Those that successfully sustain their position of power have 12 things in common. I notice they 1. keep in touch with people who matter—from workers to & shareholders to family & friends 2. listen to know what’s going on in their organization and in the world at large, to see how they can serve 3. think about the future, including succession 4. refrain from abuse of power & publicly condemn it 5. realize the danger of listening exclusively to “yes people” and ignoring those who have different viewpoints 6. do not show off their wealth; they remain humble 7. do not feel or act “above the law”, even if they make laws themselves; integrity is their bottom line 8. seek truth, while using their critical thinking skills 9. care for & support the growth of their people 10. understand that increase of power comes with increase of social responsibilities 11. refuse to give in to cynicism, even when they have ample reasons to distrust people 12. know they don’t know everything & keep on learning. Power changes people, and not always for the better. It’s a trap. Some are addicted to power. They lose rationality. You will know one or two who insist they are right when they are clearly wrong. Others disconnect from their friends. Just go over the 12 points. Can you learn to avoid the Power Trap? I think so. But it requires will, education and … guts. A Personal Coach may be a solution. LH
Prof. Loek Hopstaken Email: Mobile: 090 888 9450

6th year, no. 5 October 2, 2012
This magazine was first published in March 2007. It is digitally distributed among my Vietnamese and Dutch business & private associates. Purpose: to keep them informed about my activities in Vietnam and overseas This amazingly attractive and energetic country has rapidly conquered my soul, and become my home away from home. Loek Hopstaken

In this issue:
The Power Trap Activities Oct.-Nov. MD Program SBOEV Corporate Culture Why Strategy? Selecting MBA Integrity in business Innovation in Asia? Hopstaken Services Contact information 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it. Roald Dahl

6th year, no. 5


The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter

Saigon, September 30, 2012 Many Vietnamese study MBA, online or offline, and many others hope to study MBA one day. The main reason for most is to boost their careers, as an MBA certificate is regarded by many companies as proof of someone’s management skills. As readers of this newsletter will know, I have my sincere doubts about this. A certificate confirms a successful completion, not management skills. Despite the recent & rapid developments in the world economy, many MBA books & even MBAprofessors still use outdated insights dating from before the financial crisis. Learners are sometimes disappointed by the applicability. An American business case in Vietnam? However, an MBA program should offer more than just tools. Business cases help to develop an intellectual mindset, critical & abstract thinking skills, and the ability to look at business reality from different angles—in-depth. In Vietnam it’s not easy to find a decent MBA provider. On page 6 some selection criteria. Loek Hopstaken

This November Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands celebrates its 25th anniversary. Since its move to Apeldoorn a few years back Wittenborg has invested lots of time & energy in expanding its programmes & uplifting its already considerable standard. Its IBA-programme, accredited by the NVAO, includes 8 pathways: • Economics & management • Hospitality Management • Marketing & Communication • Financial Services Management • Information Management • Real Estate Management • Logistics & International Trade, and • Entrepreneurship & SME Management. More information:

The 2012 edition of my catalog (pdf) will be yours after sending a request to
Activities in October & November:
• • • • • October 6 - 21: bi-yearly trip to the Netherlands Consultancy & coaching, related to privatization of state owned companies Leadership Course (in company) Personal Coaching of entrepreneurs Conducting public courses, such as “Organizational Culture, Design & Development” for Royal Business School (see page 4) Strategy appraisal Keynote speeches

• •

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. Abraham Maslow

6th year, no. 5


The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter

Schoeller Bleckmann OEV completes its Management Development Program
How do you develop managers? Firstly, you have to find out what they know & don’t know, what they are good at and what they feel needs improvement. Secondly, you discuss with the top manager and HR the company’s future, to determine what competences your staff has, and which ones are missing. Thirdly, you design a program which connects as much as possible with the reality & actuality of the company. To make it all digestible yet effective, you spread out the 7 mostly 2-day sessions over a period of 8 months. Although most participants’ command of English is fine, we decided to work with an interpreter. Mr. Ngo Kiem Hieu has extensive experience both as manager and university teacher, and his English is excellent. His familiarity with technology enables him to tackle those soften tricky technical terms. All in all, Mr. Hieu is much more than a translator or interpreter: he adds true value to the course content. Highly recommended! The program is now complete. We ended with a summary & evaluation day at the excellent Phơưng Nam Resort.
Mr. Ngo Kiem Hieu

People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led. H. Ross Perot

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


Do you want a new culture?
Many years ago Jack Welch, then CEO of General Electric, wanted a 2-day program to induce a cultural change. He asked 50 top consultants for advice. Among them, Dave Ulrich (left). Dave Ulrich—who was in HCMC just one year ago—told Welch: “If you want to waste a million dollars, go buy a corporate jet. Don’t do a two-day program, because it’s not just going to waste money, it’s going to hurt. People will get expectations, and they won’t be realized back in the workforce.” Welch called him the next day and asked him to help design a program to cut the workload and bureaucracy at GE. This was no two-day plan. Workout, as it came to be called, lasted nearly a decade. To create lasting change, Ulrich and fellow Workout architect Steve Kerr held to one central tenet: Make change a natural act in a natural place. Sticking to familiar locations, Ulrich led town-hall meetings and hit factory floors. “Workout helped to generate an openness we never had before in the company,” Welch recalls. “We needed smart, independent people like Ulrich so that our own hierarchy wouldn’t get in the way.” From: Lucas Conley—The Once & Future Consultant (2005)

November 19-23 I will deliver the Organizational Culture, Design & Development Course at Royal Business School, Ho Chi Minh City. In this 5-evening-course you will learn what organizational or corporate culture is, and what to do (and not do!) when you want to change it. We will take a look at different organizational cultures, and what currently are the most successful ones. The program: 1. What is your organizational or corporate culture? 2. How to define a successful corporate culture 3. Embarking on the journey to cultural change 4. Designing an organization that meets the requirements of a global economy 5. Developing both the organization & its people: the future starts today. For more information:
Royal students after completing their Interpersonal Communications Course

The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT. Alfred Brendel

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


Why strategy?
Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope we can look at the universe. The picture (left) shows many galaxies. But the moment the image of a star or galaxy reaches Earth the light may have travelled from a few years to billions of years. In fact, in this picture we look back as far as 13,2 billion years (see footnote). Scientists hope to learn more about the origins & developments of the universe in order to better understand how it all works, and to be able predict the future of Earth and our solar system. In business we also look back. Right now many scientists try to explain why the financial crisis happened, so we may be able to prevent it from happening again. However, the problem is that Mankind has never been very good in learning from its own past. At this moment we see that banks around the world tend to continue their way of doing business as if the financial crisis didn’t really happen. Many banks—including some in the Netherlands—received big time support from the government—read: the tax payers. Many have already paid back their debt, but the situation hasn’t resulted in major change. The EU faces big problems. Hence: history may well repeat itself. Why strategy? We need to prepare for the future, even when we cannot accurately predict it. Looking back we try to learn from the past, so we are not doomed to repeat it and will be more in charge of our own destiny. Strategists then must have the ability to look back, looking for lessons, and apply those lessons in the pathways they design to fullfill their mission and to reach their goals. Which should include the observation that many haven’t really learned their lessons.

Looking back 13,2 billion years ...
This image, called the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), combines Hubble observations taken over the past decade of a small patch of sky in the constellation of Fornax. With a total of over two million seconds of exposure time, it is the deepest image of the Universe ever made, combining data from previous images including the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (taken in 2002 and 2003) and Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared (2009). The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image contains several of the most distant objects ever identified, making it the deepest image of the Universe ever taken. Source:

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. George Carlin

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


How to select the right MBA provider
Nowadays, MBA programs have a problem. Not that people are less interested in getting the certificate. On the contrary! But the increasing demand leads to several providers offering “MBA” that just isn’t worth considering. I’d even go as far as calling them a fraud: asking money for a way below standard product. Of course one cannot expect much when a provider asks US$ 5,000 or less for a full MBA, when a genuine MBA will be at least US$ 8,000. Realize that a top MBA program may cost US$ 100,000 or more. Selection criterium no. 1: You cannot expect a royal seat paying only a dime. When comparing price, dismiss the impossibly cheap ones. 2: who are the teachers? Ask for their credentials. By the way, “PhD” is NOT a requirement for an MBA teacher. An MBA course is not about becoming a scientist. In essence MBA is a vocational program, using insights & tools from both science (economics; humanities; math; finance) and business, resulting in graduates who know how to translate scientific, empirical & other findings into practical & successful business applications. An industry expert with lots of business & management experience is valued higher than a scientist with PhD but no or little business experience. MBA students don’t want theory or experimental thought, they want insights & tools with a proven record of workability. Workable not just in the USA, but also in Vietnam. A 3rd selection criterium is actuality. This may be the hardest one. For instance, most MBA providers ignore the rise of social media, and what impact they have on business (see DVMS no. 22). You should ask any MBA provider if books are used that have been published before the start of the financial crisis. Or business cases >5 years old. The world has changed, and keeps changing. It is hard to catch up with the latest developments, let alone insights and ideas. Internet is a great source, but you need to be a critical observer. Many important reference materials are unavailable online, unless you have a password—to get this you need to have the original book, or a key given by the MBA provider. (Note: academic books take a long time to produce. I see pre-crisis books being “updated” or “revised”, while these updates or revisions are merely cosmetic. “Asian editions”? Cosmetics! Given their high price, this is unacceptable. A case to be studied in the Business Ethics class!) The 4th selection criterium: how broad is the spectrum of topics? In Vietnam an MBA program should contain at least: Business English, Research Methodology, Critical Thinking, Asian (business) History, Ethics, APA-style writing & referencing, plus soft skills such as presentation, dialogue & debating techniques. The 5th: check the provider’s credentials. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Selecting an MBA provider: it is hard!

Complexity is our enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It’s hard to make something simple.
Richard Branson

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


The Bottom Line - redefined
“We hire people for what they know, and we fire them for who they are.” How often have you concluded that a job applicant was a perfect fit for the job, only to find out later his or her attitude or behaviour urged you to get rid of him or her? Again and again I hear stories confirming this statement. Obviously, recruiters focus on knowledge, experience and soft skills as the main factors for personnel selection. Knowledge & experience are relatively easy to test. Testing soft skills may be harder. A good job description provides a list of performance requirements. However, there are certain character traits that seem to escape even professional recruiters’ attention. Of course it’s almost impossible to test whether a person is up to a real challenge. And even if his CV has examples of this, there is no guarantee that he will display the same courage, composure & control when the occasion demands it. Yet, there are ways to find out—some assessments do provide insights. The bottom line however is integrity. Every employer wants someone trustworthy. Plenty examples of people who seem to live an honest life but turn out to be dishonest. Fact is, you cannot test integrity. Someone may have a lifelong reputation of being honest, only to start telling lies when life puts him in a situation or company where reality is too much to face, and this trait—native to everyone—rears its ugly head. A failed “test of character”.

We all “bend the truth” now & then. Some say we tell “little lies” several times, every day, even to our closest friends. Why? To look smart, to save face, to hide truth, to avoid having to take responsibility. It’s not these little lies we worry about. It’s the recurring act to “invent facts”, or worse: to scheme & steal, damage relationships, destroy cooperation and wilfully create confusion. So how do we find out? My advise: during the probation period, carefully observe someone’s communication. Check if it’s complete, correct & timely. If it involves the right people. If it contributes to understanding. When you have any doubts, check again until you have more certainty about the person’s attitude re. truth, trust and personal ethics. When you still have serious doubts, fire. Meanwhile: be an example of integrity.

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. J.K. Rowling

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


What keeps Asians from innovation?
Problem solving is a soft skill. It has a fixed pattern: first define & analyse the problem, then come up with possible solutions. Choose the best one. I admit there is a little more to it, but this is the essence. Interestingly, innovation follows a similar pattern. With one little difference: instead of identifying a problem, you label something an opportunity to improve. All it takes is a change of viewpoint: we have something that works, but if we don’t improve it, it’ll soon lose its attractiveness & become hopelessly outdated. Hence, iPhone 5, software updates, the latest car models, new management models, and so on. This change of viewpoint kicks off innovation. Problem solving is a widespread competence in Asian business: they know how to fix. However, Asia is not known for innovation, let alone its brands (see DVMS no. 23). Why? Besides the reasons given by Joe Baladi, a main culprit seems to be the educational system, coupled with elements of Asian culture. In education, exact duplication of teachers’ words & books’ contents will give you higher marks; originality & creative solutions will make you fail exams. In class, critical thinking, let alone: expressing a well-argued counter-opinion is not appreciated. In other words, innovative skills are suppressed instead of stimulated & developed. An Asian value is that a young person must respect the older person. Respect is fine. But it’s more than that: even if a senior is wrong, he/she is right. Say nothing: you cannot let an older person lose Face. And: a senior initiates change, not a junior. Do nothing: a demotivating environment for innovative minds! As creativity and innovation are usually a quality of youth—which is already limited due to their education—innovative power in Asia is being culturally suppressed. Which may explain why for the time being innovation will remain a competence of the USA, Vietnamese lawn mower Europe and Australia. Unless … Illustration top right: Beautiful Engineering’s Facebook page What do you think?

When looking for the path to peace, one comes to realize that peace is the path. Anonymous

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


Major Services + Client List + Mini Catalog
Loek Hopstaken’s 5 major services
The following services are in high demand: 1. Management Development programs—purpose: to train managers to qualify for higher positions, to develop soft skills, and to increase their value to their organizations 2. Seminars & Lectures in the fields of Human Resource Management, Leadership, Strategy, Public Relations and Business Communications 3. Business courses: HRM; Efficiency; Presentation Skills 4. Personal Coaching of entrepreneurs 5. Business Consultancy (Management & Leadership; HRM systems; PR; Strategy; internal communications)

WORKSHOPS A workshop is a 2-4 day group activity with a defined purpose, where theory, practical exercise and exchange of experiences are the main ingredients. Areas: HRM, PR, Communication, and Management.

List of Clients & Associates
In Vietnam: a.o. business field • Tan Thuan IPC (HCMC) Industrial development • HCMC University of Technology Master of BA program • RMIT (HCMC campus) Communication program • Royal Business School (public courses) Courses & seminars • Vietnam Airlines (RBS; ISM) International airline • Vietnam Singapore I.P. (SPECTRA) Industrial park • Petronas Vung Tau (SPECTRA) Chemical factory • Nike (Tae Kwang Vina) (SPECTRA) Shoe factory • Le & Associates Training & consultancy • Training House Vietnam (Sacombank) Training & consultancy • Ministry of L.I.S.A. (RBS) Civil Servants • SONY Vietnam (RBS) Consumer electronics • CapitaLand Vietnam (SPECTRA) Real estate • Institute for Potential Leaders / PACE Courses & seminars • Dalat Hasfarm (Agrivina) Pot plants, cut flowers • Hoanggia Media Group Key to Success TV Show • Fresh Green Earth Hi-tech agriculture • Unique Design Interior Design • ERC Institute Vietnam Vocational training • Golden Alliance Vocational training • Schoeller Bleckmann Vietnam Oilfield Equipment • De Heus Vietnam Animal food • Centre for Tropical Medicine—Oxford Uni. Clinical research • Khue Van Academy Courses & seminars • Training House Vietnam Courses & seminars • Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Business consultancy In The Netherlands, a.o. • ING Bank • Philips • Heineken • Yamaha • Voerman International • Damen Shipyards • Wittenborg University of Applied Sc. Financial services Electronics Brewery Musical instruments International relocations Ship repair wharfs IBA—BBA, MBA

• • • • • • • • •

Team Engineering Interpersonal Communication Commercial Communication Public Relations Presentation Skills Organizational Design Cross-cultural Communication Time Management / Efficiency Recruitment Skills

CONSULTING Consulting is any specified expert activity to help solve a defined problem. This can take the form of coaching, but also, conducting a research. By definition, it is tailor made. Areas: HRM, Strategy, PR.

• • • • • •

Personal Coach Business Coach Moderator Mediation Executive Selection In- & External Surveys (such as 360° Feedback)

SEMINARS A seminar is a 3-4 hour interactive transference of core know-how, including practical assignments.

• • • • • • • •

People Management Emotions in the Workplace Strategic Thinking Business Ethics The Allround Manager™ The Allround Communicator™ The Soft Skills Program On demand

Investments (ex. 10% VAT / 25% PIT) Workshops: US$ 1,200 per team / day. Consulting / Coaching: US$ 100 / hour. Seminars: US$ 550 – 850 per seminar (except for the ‘Allround’ programs). Lecture: US$ 250 per lecture. Train the Trainer: US$ 1,200 per day. Prices may change due to inflation. Contact me for longterm cooperation: or

6th year, no. 5

The Dutch Vietnam Management Supporter


The DVM Supporter is published by Loek Hopstaken.

Email: or Mobile: 090 888 9450 Assistant: Ms. Vo Ngoc Lien Huong Email: Mobile: 090 888 9451

Who is Loek Hopstaken?
1951: born in Haarlem, The Netherlands 1971-1972: travels: Europe & Asia 1972-1975: Amsterdam City University 1976-1977: travels: North & South America 1977-1993: career in banking: NCB, Postgiro, Postbank, NMB Postbank Group, ING Group, ING Bank 1979-1982: Business Administr. studies 1983-1988: Project Manager privatization process Postgiro to Postbank (field: P&O / HRM) 1989-1993: Project Manager merger Postbank & NMB Bank followed by merger with NN becoming ING Group (fields: PR, Marketing, Total Quality Management) 1991: founding Hopstaken Bedrijfsadvies 1991-present time: career in training and consultancy, coaching & mediation 1993: left ING Bank 1996-2000: Business Club MC (50 meetings) 2003-present time: combining training, coaching & consultancy with teaching at international business schools (IBA/MBA) 2005 + 2007: Professor appointments 2007-2008: visits to Vietnam: lecturing, consulting, surveying, delivering courses, workshops & seminars November 2008: establishment in Saigon 2008-present time: delivering lectures, seminars, coaching, workshops & training courses, mediation; overseas business trips 2010: Examiner VTV1 Key to Success Show 2011: Chairman Advisory Board ERC VN 2012: Chairman Academic Board ERC VN

When Asia succeeds in unleashing its creative potential, it will lead the World. But as long as it sticks to its educational systems and is unable to shake off some of its cultural inhibitions, this will never happen.
(see page 8)

Question: What do you think of the above statement? Let me know:

Full CV: mail