Monday, January 29, 2007

Doing Business in Mexico

I love this blog. Why? Because this information is hard to find and it is good, useful information for anyone living in and/or working in Mexico.

Lee Iwan works in Corporate Mexico in Leon, Guanajuato. Leon is one of Mexico's thriving manufacturing centers, is the leather tanning and shoe manufacturing capital of Mexico (who knew?) and is located in Mexico's heartland. Lee doesn't mention who he works for, but says in his profile that he has worked in retail, wholesale, service, manufacturing and agricultural industries internationally. He certainly seems to have an international perspective and a good handle on business life in Mexico.

His blog, entitled Business South of the Border, treats a different subject with each post. Recent subjects have included the way employee Christmas bonuses are paid in Mexico, new low-cost airlines that are flying to Mexico and "what every business person should know about Mexican politics".

One of my favorite posts, from October 2006, is about the value of Patience and Chaos in doing business in Mexico. It is, in my opinion, an absolutely brilliant and spot-on observation and I reprint it here as an example of the valuable information you can find on this website, both for your working and your personal life if you live in Mexico or deal regularly with Mexicans...

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Patience.

Mexicans are patient people. The have great tolerance for human error. They run on a schedule that is influenced by work concerns, family concerns, their own mental health, and takes into consideration outside factors and influences that might interfere with their plans.

This is not to say that Mexicans are never in a hurry, or are willing to accept poor quality, or like to move slowly.

What it means is that they are not overly disturbed and motivated to emotional outbursts and threats if something gets in their way, or does not go as planned. They patiently seek a solution, and if no solution is present, they accept the reality of the situation.

Chaos

Chaos is part of Mexican culture and society. Lack of long term planning is quite common (at government, business, personal levels), and everything gets done at the last minute. The curious part is that everything DOES get done.

This chaos and disorganization draws strong criticism from individuals used to order, control, planning and expected outcomes in their own countries. Remember that it is a characteristic of Mexico, not good, not bad, just different.

Living in a chaotic environment allows the Mexicans to rapidly adapt to any situation, take advantages of opportunities quickly, and survive quite well in a very changing world.

There is spontaneity in Mexico. Social engagements are arranged at a moments notice, or simply just happen, unplanned and casually. Things just happen. Expect last minute changes in plans, events, and agendas. “Expect the unexpected” is great advice.

Not surprisingly, Mexico is a country where social relationships and social networks are extremely important. These personal bonds and relationships, which are reinforced constantly, help to create order and get things done.

As is the case of all stereotypes, these observations are broad based and may, or may not, have any validity.

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The emphasis in bold letters is mine. And I especially love the last sentence, italicized by the author. Because it should be put at the end of any article written about Mexico or Mexicans. You can try to generalize about something here, but you will be immediately proven wrong at the next possible moment. It has something to do with the inherent chaos of life down here. And it is what allows the magic to shine through.

Anyway, whether or not you do business in Mexico, I encourage you to spend time on this blog if you want to learn about the Mexican way of doing things. No matter how much you think you know about Mexico and Mexicans, I can almost guarantee you will learn something.

2 comments:

Lee said...

Ellen,

Appreciate your comments and very glad you found information of use at my blog. That type of validation and acknowledgement keep me going.

Don't think I was a selfish thug for not writing earlier, I have been traveling on business.

Thank you,

Lee
Business South of the Border

Melissa said...

Great report! I would say "chaos" is an easy thing to find in most of Latin American countries...Have a great weekend,
M