The Lenovo Way

MERGING EAST AND WEST IN A GLOBAL BRAND

In The Lenovo Way, Gina Qiao, Senior Vice President of Global HR, and Yolanda Conyers, Lenovo’s Vice President of Global HR Operations and Chief Diversity  Officer, tell the incredible story of the world’s number one PC maker, Lenovo. Originally called Legend, Lenovo was some 15 years ago a little-known (outside of China) computer company started by a survivor of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. That Liu Chuanzhi was able to build a computer company in China that could compete with the likes of Dell and Apple was already a success story; that his company, now renamed Lenovo, would be able to successfully acquire in 2005 the iconic IBM PC business, which was actually four times the size of Lenovo, was a feat of perhaps unprecedented business skill and daring.

Within Lenovo, the acquisition was described as the snake eating the elephant. Not surprisingly, the digestion of said elephant was a tumultuous, often frustrating process, chronicled in The Lenovo Way by two of its key players.

Gina and Yolanda

The experiences of Gina Qiao and Yolanda Conyers in many ways reflect the frustrations of the post-acquisition experience for both the Chinese and the non-Chinese managers and employees of the new behemoth.

When English was announced as the official language of the new company, Gina knew exactly three words of English: “hello,” “goodbye” and “thank you.” Arriving at the headquarters of the American firm her company had just acquired, she was refused entry by the gatekeeper, who told her she had to do better than say she had “a meeting with Peter.”

In one important strategy brainstorming session, Gina was silent in response to a proposal from her American counterpart because she disagreed but did not want to be disrespectful. The American counterpart took her silence for approval and pushed through the proposal. Gina eventually learned to use the phrase “I am not comfortable” to communicate her respectful concerns.

Yolanda soon discovered that her Chinese colleagues were seething over what they saw as her overly aggressive, straightforward style. Eventually, Gina would sit her down and give her an extensive list of pointers about what not to do. Examples: no group emails; don’t say you disagree, which shows disrespect; take the time to build individual relationships; wear a jacket to work — dress can also be misinterpreted as a sign of disrespect. Eventually, Gina would move to the U.S., and Yolanda would eventually move to China, enhancing their understanding of other cultures.

The integration challenge was heightened by the fact that there were what the authors call “three rivers,” referring to the three different corporate backgrounds of Lenovo’s executives: Lenovo, IBM and Dell (a number of key people brought in after the merger, including the new CEO of Lenovo, Bill Amelio, as well as Yolanda Conyers, came from Dell).The Lenovo veterans were seen as “unyielding and unwilling to communicate” by others; the IBMers were seen as “slow-moving and entitled”; while the Dell hires were seen as “aggressive and arrogant.” With vastly different languages, national cultures and corporate cultures to overcome, the fact that the new Lenovo not only survived but thrives is a testament to its leaders, including the authors of the book.

The Lenovo Story

In some ways, The Lenovo Way is misnamed. There is, indeed, a Lenovo Way, which consists of four Ps (plan before you pledge, perform as promised, prioritize the company first, and practice improving every day) and Lenovo’s Protect and Attack strategy, which is focused on protecting and exploiting current advantages while always looking for new growth areas. And given Lenovo’s global success, after some difficult post-acquisition years, its strategies for success in the age of globalization should be carefully heeded. However, it is the successful integration of the Chinese and Western cultures that is truly at the heart of this book — and its greatest lesson.

The one drawback to the book is that the voices of Gina Qiao and Yolanda Conyers are lost, since the text refers to them in the third person. Nevertheless, these two incredible women from opposite sides of the world will encourage everyone to believe that the most insurmountable cross-cultural challenges can be overcome with patience and an open mind.

The Reinvention of a City

First rising to greatness as the result of breathtaking innovation, Detroit had generations of booming growth before succumbing to apathy, atrophy, and finally bankruptcy. Now, the city is rising from the ashes and driving sustainable success through an intense focus on reinvention.

Josh Linkner, a Detroit native, entrepreneur and author, brings an insider’s view of this incredible story of grit, determination, and creativity, sharing his perspective on Detroit’s successes and setbacks as a profound example of large-scale organizational and personal transformation.

The Road to Reinvention is Linker’s latest book and he weaves many stories of Detroit’s rebirth into its pages. Within the book he also provides an outline of the 6 elements of your business that are ripe for reinvention:

1. Cannibalize your own product
2. Retool your operation
3. Create vivid experiences
4. Tell a memorable story
5. Overhaul your culture
6. Reimagine your customer

If you would like to reinvent your business, then we invite you to join us on October 16th for our Soundview Live webinar with Josh Linkner: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation. Josh will explain how this list of potential reinvention points can be applied to your business.

Strategically Lead with Three New Summaries

Effective leadership is all about strategy. Leaders need thought-out strategies to connect with their employees and customers to develop a unique culture within your organization. Soundview has three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries that help you approach your management or leadership role with valuable strategies.

accountability

by Greg Bustin

Accountability by Greg Bustin Greg Bustin, business and leadership consultant, offers insightful concepts and practical examples from real-life experiences that will increase accountability and drive success for any type of organization in Accountability. He introduces the Seven Pillars of Accountability: character, unity, learning, tracking, urgency, reputation and evolution, and how to sustain a high-performance culture for a thriving business.

 

 

the_purpose_economy

by Aaron Hurst

The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst The Purpose Economy describes the shifts in American economy and set of ways in which people and organizations are focused on creating value. Globally recognized entrepreneur Aaron Hurst examines three types of purpose that are transforming the economy: personal, social, and societal. Based on his own personal experiences and interviews with other entrepreneurs, The Purpose Economy is a guide on how to transform your company and career to better serve the world.

 

elevate

by Rich Horwath

Elevate by Rich Horwath Elevate offers leaders and executives with an outline for developing advanced strategic thinking approach. Strategy expert Rich Horwath focuses on advanced strategic thinking that will drive results in the short-and long-term. His three-discipline approach breaks strategy down into its fundamentals: Coalesce, Compete and Champion and how to apply it to your day-to-day tasks.

Turning Around the Troubled Company

Turning around floundering companies requires effective management at all levels of the organization. But how is this achieved? What must management do to be effective?

Jim Burkett knows something about making the right things happen. He has turned around twenty-eight underperforming and troubled companies, from Fortune 500 companies to smaller public and private companies, throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Burkett has come up with a tool kit for turning around companies that includes:

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Measuring performance
  • Executing
  • Following-up
  • Real-time reporting
  • Problem solving

If you are facing the daunting task of helping to turn around your company, then you’ll want to join us for our Soundview Live webinar The Learned Disciplines of Management, coming up on July 29th. You’ll hear more about his tool kit along with practical examples of how turnarounds can happen.

Join us and invite your whole management team. And make sure to bring your questions to post for Jim to answer during the webinar.

Reinventing Organizations

REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

Go for the Teal

A recently hired financial analyst from Pakistan named Shazad Qasim once approached Dennis Bakke, the co-founder of global energy provider Applied Energy Services (AES), and said he was going to investigate opportunities for AES in his country. Bakke was skeptical, but the decision was up to the analyst: under Bakke, AES used the “advice process” for decision-making, which meant that superiors had to be asked for their advice, but the decision remained at the lower rungs of the organization. AES is one of the “Teal” companies featured in a new book called Reinventing Organizations by Belgian consultant Frederic Laloux.

As Laloux explains, researchers in history and developmental theory have created a general framework that describes how humans have evolved through history in leaps of human consciousness. In Reinventing Organizations, Laloux shows how we are on the cusp of the next stage in human consciousness. The Evolutionary-Teal stage (all stages have assigned colors) — will bring its own changes to our organizations. In exhaustive detail and using pioneer companies that have already moved into the next stage, Laloux describes the structures, practices and cultures of Teal organizations and how they will emerge.

With each leap or new paradigm shift in the consciousness underpinnings of society, there is a corresponding leap in how humans collaborate, Laloux writes. For example, the Impulsive-Red period in human development, which started with chiefdom-led tribes 10,000 years ago, represented organizations that were ruled by iron-fisted leaders controlling their people through fear.

The Conformist-Amber consciousness, which followed with the shift from chiefdom to states and civilizations — as in Mesopotamia in 4,000 BC — included a deeper awareness of other people’s feelings and perceptions, Laloux writes. Today’s Amber organizations, he writes, are those with stable hierarchies and processes focused on the long term — organizations such as governmental agencies, the military and public school systems.

The Achievement-Orange paradigm emerged in the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, when the universe began to be viewed as a machine that could be investigated and explained. In organizations, innovation is a major goal. Multinational companies are usually Orange.

The more recent Pluralistic-Green paradigm is uneasy with power; in this stage of human consciousness, the idea is the destruction of hierarchies. Green organizations focus on empowerment and values-driven culture — companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Southwest Airlines.

The Evolutionary-Teal stage leads to three organizational breakthroughs: self-management, operating on a basis of peer relationships rather than hierarchy; wholeness, which means the whole person and not just the professional self comes to the workplace; and evolutionary purpose, in essence, the organization itself having a direction and a reason for living.

Using 11 companies as examples, from a family-owned foundry in France to the iconoclastic Patagonia Company, Laloux explores how they operate through self-management structures and processes, strive for wholeness through their general practices and HR processes, and listen to their evolutionary purpose. This practical book will help leaders dissect their organization and find the opportunity to bring their company into the new Teal paradigm.