Crossing the Street in Vietnam

Crossing the street in any city in Vietnam is quite challenging and a strangely lonely activity. Thousands of people are on the move, mostly on scooters. It's best that tourists seek a traffic light, even if means a sizeable detour.

But how do the busy residents of Hanoi (pictured here), Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Da Nang etc. go about it - and what are the possible lessons for business?

First of all, they wait for a hint of a gap, establish eye contact with the oncoming traffic and set off. The traffic doesn't come that quickly, as there's a lot of it, so they keep going forward unless someone really is speeding (in which case they stop). Riders/drivers will adjust their speed accordingly and the pedestrians should reach the other side. One thing they don't generally do, however, is step back because no one is expecting them to and that could cause a serious accident.

The useful ideas are:
- Once a decision is made, it's a good idea to take a deep breath before proceeding.
- That means sizing up the situation - patiently waiting for an opportunity, then setting off.
- Keep going, but also keep focused on what's going on - even better engage with the other players (eye contact with the closest scooter riders in this case).
- Also engage with other people who are attempting the same thing (fellow pedestrians).
- If things look problematic (a speeding scooter suddenly appearing), don't panic but be prepared to stop suddenly or take evasive action, but only forwards.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, THIS IS NOT A RECOMMENDATION FOR TOURISTS and the business analogy may not always work either. However, it's possible to observe that people find ways to confront quite daunting challenges by learning the rules of a situation and then getting some practice. On the other hand, sometimes it may just make sense to circle back and find a friendly traffic light, and not worry too much how long that takes.


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