Chuc Mung Nam Moi!
On behalf of the “VIOIT Dialogue Working Group,” I would like to send my best wishes to you and your families for a safe, healthy, and prosperous year of the tiger.
Evolution of “VIOIT Dialogue”
VIOIT Dialogue was launched on 26 October 2021 with the idea of VIOIT Director General, Dr. Nguyen Van Hoi that “VIOIT should expand its network with both domestic and international experts through open and frank discussions of many pertinent industry and trade issues facing Viet Nam.” The assignment given to the “Working Group” was to “organize international seminars and workshops as often as every two weeks” – a “mission impossible”!! The main idea behind this is that as the situation facing Viet Nam including regional and global contexts as well as technological, economic, and social environment is changing rapidly, and since many separate issues are actually related to each other, it is absolutely essential to promote new ideas or “out of the box thinking” by expanding VIOIT’s network with regional and global research communities. My role as Senior Advisor of VIOIT is to help the “Working Group” launch and develop this initiative.
Ayumi and PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Since its inauguration, we have already successfully organized 4 sessions under different themes such as the approaches for the development of the law on industrial development, key factors that need to be considered in developing the new strategies for the imports/exports of goods, promotion of automobile industries in Viet Nam, and “Green Recovery” from the negative impact of COVID-19. I have the honor to act as the moderator for these 4 sessions so far.
A key characteristic of the VIOIT Dialogue is that the online discussion organized on the Zoom platform is conducted under the strict application of the “Chatham House Rules,” i.e., while everyone is welcome to benefit from the ideas of other participants, the meeting strictly follows the principle of anonymity – so nobody will be quoted for what she or he has said at the meeting. It is also understood that everyone is speaking in her/his personal capacity, and not as a “representative” of any organization. These basic rules are enabling free and frank discussion of many issues.
With the organization of the 4 sessions so far, we feel that the new network of VIOIT is growing with the “VIOIT Dialogue,” and we believe “VIOIT Dialogue” is also contributing to the promotion of VIOIT itself in the international research community. For example, the 3rd session held on 14 December was participated by Professor Kenichi Ohno, one of the most prominent Japanese scholars on Viet Nam. As the “VIOIT Dialogue” helps promote VIOIT’s “brand name,” we also believe that it will help VIOIT’s collaboration with many outside organizations.
Lessons Learned and Challenges Faced
Typically, preparation of each session of the “VIOIT Dialogue” involves (1) identification of the theme; (2) discussion within the Working Group of the key topics and questions under the theme to consider possible discussion flow; (3) preparation of the “concept paper” to allow researchers in our contact list to prepare for their participation based on specific discussion points; (4) preparation of the background materials; (5) solicitation of the participation of the scholars who may have particular perspectives to contribute; (6) preparation of the formal invitation with the program; and (7) preparation of the talking points for VIOIT Director General’s welcome remarks. In addition to this, the Working Group prepares the Zoom link for the session and circulates the official invitation and other relevant materials.
What I believe the Working Group members have been learning is the importance of good preparation for productive discussions. Even though the discussion itself is conducted casually with free flow, in fact, it is essential to anticipate and prepare for a good flow of discussions to realize successful outcomes. In other words, “free discussion” does not mean there is no plan for the flow of the ideas on the side of the organizers or the moderator. Instead, there should be a plan to support the evolution of the ideas and to ensure that the discussion will be focussed. We also learned that it is very important to make individual follow-ups to the invitations as simple circulation of the invitation by e-mail to a large group cannot ensure the attention of the participants who may have ideas to contribute.
Senior Advisor AYUMI KONISHI
The most serious challenge we have faced was to involve people from other ministries or organizations. In discussing the issue of agricultural trade, for example, we underestimated the difficulty in inviting colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). We were fortunate that we got the support of the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) in discussing the development of the automobile sector, as companies were reluctant to disclose the information and data on their operations such as the information on domestic value-added or their parts suppliers.
Other lessons we have learned include:
* It will be good if VIOIT can develop an official, institution-wide database of its contacts. It is a pity that such information is held by different departments or individuals without VIOIT-wide consolidation. Perhaps, VIOIT Working Group can help prepare such an official “VIOIT Contact List.”
* It will be good if VIOIT’s official homepage at http://vioit.org.vn/vn/ can be used actively to disseminate the results of the VIOIT Dialogue. It will allow those who missed the actual dialogue to at least catch up with the ideas.
* In using Zoom as the platform, it is a pity that we cannot really see the faces of the speakers at the VIOIT meeting room. We can see other speakers on their own devices well, but the “meeting room view of VIOIT” is a disadvantage for those who join the meeting physically in the VIOIT meeting room.
“VIOIT Dialogue” as VIOIT’s Asset
We sincerely believe that launching and continuing development of the “VIOIT Dialogue” was one of the good achievements of VIOIT in 2021. But for the “VIOIT Dialogue” to be more useful to everyone in VIOIT, a key must be to gain the recognition and confidence of VIOIT staff that the “VIOIT Dialogue” is VIOIT’s important asset.
We sincerely hope to see more active participation of VIOIT colleagues in the “VIOIT Dialogue,” and we also would like to encourage different VIOIT Departments and Centers to use the “VIOIT Dialogue” as a convenient platform to test or solicit ideas on various issues. Please note that the next session of the VIOIT Dialogue is scheduled for 22 February (Tuesday) at 2:00 p.m., and we shall be discussing “Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) and Digital Transformation (DX) in the industry and trade sectors of Viet Nam.” We also welcome suggestions for the future themes from you!
In other words, the VIOIT Dialogue Working Group hopes that the “VIOIT Dialogue” will be firmly owned by all the VIOIT colleagues. It will be great to see the VIOIT Dialogue’s continuing growth with your kind support in 2022.
AYUMI KONISHI - Senior Advisor, VIOIT