Monday, August 1, 2011

Feng Shui Analytics

Last week I fortunate enough to chat to Tom Davenport at a recent presentation on analytics. The seminar was hosted by Deloitte, which has recently opened its Analytics Institute in Singapore with the assistance of the Economic Development Board. While it is admirable that the Singapore government sees the need for analytics in Singapore and the region, a recent post on the Analytics in Asia Linkedin Group gives rise to the question of whether Asian businesses see the need for analytics in making business decisions, as they may prefer to make business decisions by consulting a feng shui master.

Even though the practice was banned in Mainland China by the Communist Party, feng shui continued to be quite prevalent in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Over the past few decades, as capitalism has been making a resurgence, feng shui has also been making a comeback in Mainland China, and is currently used to predict the behavior of Chinese stocks. Feng shui itself is also a major business in the region, as top feng shui masters can earn great fame and fortune. Alas, as with any business, religion, or human endeavor for that matter, feng shui also has its share of charlatans, perverts, and miscreants.

However, this is not to say that one should be dismissive of feng shui. Clearly it has an important role to play in business decisions in Asian firms, and maybe necessary for a holistic approach to business in the region. In addition, its prevalence is an important factor in Asian markets, such as Taiwan real estate prices, and non-Asians doing business in the region need to understand its importance and impact. That said, for Asian firms who are relying on feng shui for major business decisions, analytics can provide the other half of the coin. The logic and fact-based insight that can arise from crunching massive amounts of sales, costs, and consumer data can be as enlightening as the prescience provided by a skilled feng shui master. Thus, a truly balanced firm in Asia should employ both analytics and feng shui in order to make better business decisions.


  1. Interesting article... a few years back, when I was working in Korea, our company had a string of bad luck. Our boss considered bringing in a shaman with a pig's head in order to reverse our fortunes. Luckily things picked up before there was any official need to bring in the bacon.

  2. I can relate to most of what you've written in your article since being Chinese, I'm quite familiar with the influence of Feng Shui in companies in Singapore. I also think Feng Shui is a fantastic art (or perhaps science). One can clearly see the benefits of having the elements of nature balanced and this is what Feng Shui is really about.

    Having said that, between Feng Shui and Analytics, I would go as far as to say the former does not weigh up to even half during major business decision making. Don't be fooled if you walk into an office jazzed up with all kinds of Feng Shui charms, this boss knows well enough to scrutinise your facts and figures.

    Feng Shui may be able to enhances a fundamentally sound business plan or idea. It's not going to work if it is a lousy one to start with.