NEW YORK – Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of reading Raj Karamchedu’s book, "The Disconnect Patterns: Notes for Managing a U.S.-China High Technology Company."
If you happen to work for a "U.S.-China" technology company, Karamchedu's book should be required reading. Karamchedu defines such an enterprise as headquartered in the U.S. with a sizeable Chinese engineering and marketing team. It is driven to cultivate Chinese customers, although its business is not limited to China.
This is a familiar and growing model pursued by U.S. chip companies. As many companies are already finding out, it’s important to note that this template is fraught with "disconnects" between teams working in either side of the Pacific.
Karamchedu “how-to” approach eschews dispensing simple "answers" to each disconnect pattern. Instead, he shows readers how to recognize the dilemmas and work through them.
Karamchedu addresses real-world issues by inventing a fictional chip company based in Silicon Valley, called Emory Semiconductors. The book starts with a crisis when a fast-moving, all-China fabless company in Shanghai moves to steal a key Emory customer in China.
It’s a scenario you’ve probably heard before.
The author, former chief operating officer at Legend Silicon, a U.S.-China company based in Fremont, Calif., is clearly familiar with what a China-U.S. company is up against.
As Karamchedu confessed on his Web site
I can tell you from my experience that, when a China-U.S. company is infected with these disconnect patterns, it is like being thrown into a big washing machine. You feel like you are being whirled around in an irreconcilable mix of the U.S. and China skill differences, time differences, language differences, geographical distance and culture differences.
And then it starts to spin out of control into a maelstrom of execution failures, product delays, unhappy customers and eventually, layoffs.
Karamchedu articulates these disconnect patterns without prejudice and illustrates them through the voices of U.S. and China teams working for the fictional company. Each disconnect pattern is explained and dissected. Tips on how to handle the differences emerge from an Emory investor named "Zugal," who conducts extensive face-to-face meetings with Emory’s U.S. and China teams to discover the root causes of their conflicts.