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'Culture is the Nuclear Bomb of Huawei'
Recently I visited Hong Kong, Hanoi (Vietnam) and Shenzhen (China) and had the opportunity to visit Huawei in order to learn about its culture and then facilitate a session examining the implications for group of 25 CEOs of Chinese Hospitals. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is a Chinese multinational (or in their own words "global") networking and telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in Shenzhen, China. "Huawei is a leading global "ICT" solutions provider" (see picture). ICT stands for "information communications technology".
The visit to Huawei was part of a two day program offered by the Shanghai Institute of Advanced Finance. This program was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. The overall theme of the program was "crossing boundaries."
My role is this program was to expose the CEOs to our framework for Building Sustainably Successful organizations™
During a half day visit to Huawei, we did a tour of one of the company's campuses, which included housing for a number of employees and one of its Research and Development facilities. Our group also did a tour of Huawei's marketing facility, which not only lays out its historical development but also presents its vision, strategy, patents, and products.
Granted that we had only a limited exposure to Huawei, but based on this visit it is clear that Huawei is a very impressive organization. I have visited China about 25 times since 2009, lecturing, consulting, and learning about the company and its businesses. Without a doubt, Huawei is the most impressive company I have been exposed to in China. Its achievements place it the par with several of the great Western companies like IBM, CISCO, and Apple.
The highlight of the visit (at least for me) was a very surprising presentation by a man named Mr. Zhu Shiyao, who is the Deputy Party Secretary of Huawei. When I heard that we were going to hear a presentation form a "Deputy Party Secretary" my suspicion was that this was going to some sort of propaganda session. It was not. Rather, it was a lucid presentation about the history and development of Huawei, led by its enigmatic but clearly brilliant and visionary founder, Ren Zhengfei.
"Corporate Culture is the 'Nuclear Bomb' of Huawei"
There are many aspects of Huawei that would or should be of interest to management theorists and leaders of actual organizations. But I have selected the one that for me was most intriguing. This is the statement concerning corporate culture above and in the title of this article: "Corporate Culture is the 'Nuclear Bomb' of Huawei"?
What does this mean? The "nuclear bomb" is the ultimate weapon in any war. Huawei views itself as being in a battle or war with all of its competitors. It is a "continuous battle for survival." In that battle the ultimate weapon is corporate culture. This notion is consistent with the title of the book on corporate culture written by myself and Yvonne Randle, and titled: Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset,3 which we have cited previously in our series of monthly articles.
What is it about Huawei's culture that give it is competitive advantage and has facilitated its growth and competitive success? That will be the subject of part 2 of this article in next month's MS News and Perspectives. In the meantime, you might find some insights in either our book (cited above) or at http://www.mgtsystems.com/
Huawei's core values are shown graphically in Exhibit 1. They are explained in Exhibit 2. On their face these values seem relatively common to many companies; but it is what is below the surface and not discussed that make them very powerful. As noted above, this will be the subject of next month's article.
Huawei Core Values (see picture)
Explanation of Huawei Core Values
Huawei exists to serve customers, whose demands are the driving forces behind our development. We continuously create long-term value for customers by being responsive to their needs and requirements. We measure our work against how much value we bring to customers, because we can only succeed through our customers' success.
We win customers' respect and trust primarily through dedication. This includes every effort we make to create value for customers and to improve our capabilities. We value employees' contributions and reward them accordingly.
Continuous improvement is required for us to become better partners for our customers, improve our company and grow as individuals. This process requires that we actively listen and learn in order to improve.
Openness & Initiative
Driven by customer needs, we passionately pursue customer-centric innovations in an open manner. We believe that business success is the ultimate measure of the value of any technology, product, solution or process improvement.
Integrity is our most valuable asset. It drives us to behave honestly and keep our promises, ultimately winning our customers' trust and respect.
We can only succeed through teamwork. By working closely in both good times and bad, we lay the foundation for successful cross-cultural collaboration, streamlined inter- departmental cooperation and efficient processes.
1 Ren Zhengfei, Founder and Deputy Chairman of the Board, Huawei
2 This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Huawei and its corporate culture.
Part 2 will appear in the August issue of MS News and Perspectives.
Part 2 is being deferred in part because of length, so that I have a chance to digest what I learned, and also so I can distill its lessons and implications for other CEOs and companies.
3 Eric and Yvonne Randle, Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset, Stanford University Press, 2011.
4 Huawei website.