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Create a Sense of Crisis before Diving into Digital, Urges Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping

Nov 17, 2021

[Vienna, Austria, November 17, 2021] A sense of crisis should be encouraged and intensified to help drive digital transformation, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Guo Ping has told a gathering of management professionals at the 13th Global Peter Drucker Forum.

Guo Ping

Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping delivers a keynote speech at the 13th Global Peter Drucker Forum

Motivated employees “on a mission” and strategic planning aligned to the company’s goals were key to creating the climate for successful change, Guo Ping said.

He predicted all companies would “go digital” in future, but feared some currently at the early stages lacked clear strategic goals and were “just following the pack”.

Guo Ping told delegates at the annual Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna on Wednesday that there was “no real alternative” to change, but that companies had to answer a key question before successfully embarking on digital transformation:

"By going digital, how can they improve their organizational competitiveness and achieve their strategic goals?"

Guo Ping said high-quality planning was the starting point for successful digitalization. A fundamental transformation of Huawei’s product development in R&D and sustainable supply chains began twenty years earlier with IT Strategy & Planning.

“Looking back, we feel quite lucky, interlocking the goal of digitalization with the company’s overall strategic goals was certainly the right move. As a result, our organizational capabilities greatly improved. These transformation programmes made us a world class company”.

Guo Ping said changing employees’ mindset was “the biggest challenge” but key to successful transformation, with urgency generating “a sense of mission” and momentum for change.

“The sense of a crisis is important. Make it visible to intensify (it) to make employees truly understand the need for a change,” he advised, adding that the current situation had “been the perfect opportunity to create a climate for change” at the company.

He said Huawei had ensured employees had understood the need for change, fostered a culture of eagerness for transformation and ensured affected workers had felt protected.

Guo Ping said Huawei’s own culture of innovation begins with a tolerance for failure, with its researchers encouraged to adopt a varied, trial-and-error approach.

Citing the multiple 5G technologies Huawei had developed before one given technology was selected to be part of the industry standard, he recalled the words of the company founder Ren Zhengfei:“You take a path to find it only leads to a dead end. You share it with others so that they don’t repeat it and try another path: that’s also a success”.

Guo Ping highlighted the importance of transformation management and that at Huawei “the one thing that never changes is change”.

“To advance with times, we review our transformation planning every year, to ensure it aligns with our business strategy.  I believe continued transformation management will enable companies to constantly improve their capabilities in the digital era,” he said. “I hope all companies will boldly embrace change. After all, there’s no real alternative.”

The Peter Drucker Forum is held every year in the management guru’s hometown of Vienna, Austria. The annual event, the 13th since 2009, brings together professionals of modern management from around the world. The theme of this year’s conference was the human imperative of navigating uncertainty in the digital age.