vivien-li By William Seidman  I recently returned from Shenzhen (above, left), Beijing, and Hong Kong where I worked with Intel customer service teams –  speakers of Mandarin and Cantonese, sometimes one and sometimes both  – with only moderate English language skills. In their high-tech industry they are some of the best – and the work went well. Vivien Li (above, center) contributed hugely to our success. My teams found that taking notes was a powerful tool.

  • Some of the team members are speakers of  Mandarin, and some speak Cantonese ; the languages are vastly dissimilar.
  • Being able to write down their learnings in real time is powerful.
  • Instead of relying on PowerPoint presentations and spoken English, much of their learning derived from discussions in their native language, stimulated by written “best practices.”
  • They then would record learnings by writing in English. This recording made a big difference in retention, and actually solidifies learning. The act of note-taking, and the reliability of notes was especially important to our work in China – much as it is here in the US.
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