isn't this the usual case in the modern world?
Perhaps. Which doesn't mean it's a good thing.
In 1989 Poland sat at a "Monopoly" board and started playing. The problem was - other players had money, and we didn't. Those who don't know what happens in such cases are advised to play a game of "Monopoly" when other players have 99% of money available in the game. :) Yes, I realise that my comparison entails certain measure of oversimplification, but that's basically what happened.
most of Polish industry in the early 90s was incapable of supporting itself
That is simply not true. Yes, there were companies in dire need of restructurisation, but most of them could have easily made it in the free market reality. Especially the light industry. In Great Britain there are still small/medium-size companies using industrial machines from 80s/90s and making profit. The problem with Poland is that our economy was in hands of either hard headed doctrinaires or simply corrupt people. A typical pattern of Polish privatisation was to take a company which brought 160 million USD yearly profit, and sell it to a foreign investor for 80 million. This way the investor got back his invested money in 6 months, and the land, buildings, machines etc. remained in his hands. There were also outright criminal cases, like selling car industry works in Bielsko-Biała for 1PLN (so-called "symboliczna złotówka"), to "save them from bankruptcy". Telekomunikacja Polska - a golden goose by any standards - was sold to France Telecom, which is a state-owned company (!!!), so now billions of pure profit (around 12-15 billion PLN every year) are going straight into the French government pockets. Jesus... I could go on like that...
In free Poland, people responsible for that should be put before The State Tribunal.
how would/could you have done anything differently?
First of all, I wouldn't sell ANY company that made even the smallest profit - they were numerous, and they weren't a burden for the newly independent state. Unfortunately, the doctrinaires in power back then viewed anything state-owned as evil, and were "privatising" (which simply meant selling into foreign hands) almost everything. When I think that Lewandowski wanted to sell KGHM for 400 million USD in 1992 (a company that brought over 42 BILLION profit since then), I am happy that there was someone with a bit of reason remaining in him and stopped it. Unfortunately, many other companies fell victim to the criminal privatisation, turning Poland from a highly industrialised state into a pretty much neo-colonial bantustan in economic terms.
Also, I would do everything not to give trade into foreign hands. As opposed to industry, creating trade companies and retail chains doesn't require exorbitant expenses. Giving away the overwhelming majority of retail to foreign based companies was nothing short of stupidity. We are paying a very high price for it now.
When I think of it all, I realise that it would require a 1000-page-long book, not a forum post, to even start describing the problem...