A Message from the AmCham Taipei President

Zooming Out in the Year of the Dog

The simple questions about our businesses and organizations are often the hardest to answer. Who are we? What’s our story? How do we tell it? And to whom?

AmCham Taipei pondered these questions at our recent retreat, an annual event bringing the AmCham staff together with the Board for an afternoon of brainstorming and troubleshooting. Traditionally, we sequester ourselves in a conference room for an afternoon and focus on challenges such as increasing revenue, recruiting more members, and strengthening committees.

This year we changed our approach, zooming out a bit to look at the big picture and refining the key messages that will inform and inspire our work the rest of the year. The messaging will be integrated into everything we do, from conceptualizing events and recruiting members to creating content for our publications and engaging with the Taiwanese and U.S. governments.

We began the retreat with a classic “SWOT” analysis, examining our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A long list was developed for each category, but here are some of the key points:

Strengths: AmCham Taipei has a strong, trusted brand with nearly 70 years of history for successful advocacy, networking, information sharing, and professional development. We have excellent access to the Taiwanese government and well-established links to Washington. Our Business Climate Survey, White Paper and TOPICS magazine are must-reads for those doing business in Taiwan.

Weaknesses: Too often we try to be everything to everyone, and need to do a better job prioritizing. We also need to be more effective in showing how AmCham’s members benefit Taiwan with employment, investment, tax payments, and other factors.

Opportunities: We can find new ways to serve as a bridge, attracting American companies to invest here while helping Taiwanese companies go to the United States. We could do more outreach to local companies that would benefit from an AmCham membership.

Threats: Geopolitical uncertainties, political dysfunction in Taiwan, and ill-advised U.S. policy on trade and foreign relations could have a negative impact on the island’s business climate.

Among the messages that emerged from the discussion:

  • AmCham members are deeply rooted in Taiwan, with many operating here for decades. They’ve invested billions and have created tens of thousands of jobs. They believe in Taiwan and want it to succeed.
  • AmCham wants to be treated like a partner and ally of the government – not as a critic or stakeholder on the sidelines. With better two-way communication, AmCham must show how its business objectives align with the government’s policy objectives.
  • There’s great urgency for Taiwan to embrace disruption. In an increasingly competitive world, the biggest risk is not to be innovative. There’s no time to delay.

What delighted me was that these same messages have also been surfacing in the White Paper committee meetings I’ve been attending the past three months. They’ve also come up in the courtesy calls I’ve been making along with the lunches and coffee chats I’m having with members.

Identifying messages for a diverse and complex organization such as AmCham is challenging. It’s an ongoing process, demanding tweaks and calibrations. But I think we’re off to a good start in the Year of the Dog.

As always, I welcome your feedback: [email protected]