Formal institutionalization and informal network of relations

Formal institutionalization and informal network of relations

25.12.2018 20:41


In 2010, I became the managing director of Huawei Software Business Unit in Western Europe. At that time the business development of our department was still in early stage, and the operational management was also at a low level. But I was very ambitious and launched a quite radical reform in order to make great achievements in a short time. Of course my motivation was to secure the chance of my own promotion.

When I took over this Business Unit, all of its country managers and heads of business divisions were Chinese, there was no any European employee occupying a leadership position. Therefore I promoted many European employees to take over leading positions. Meanwhile, I tried to institutionalize the operation of our department by establishing a mechanism of bi-weekly voice conference across all the countries in Western Europe region. In the past, the official language of our department meetings was Chinese, thus, our European colleagues had no chance to participate the departmental management and decision-making at all. I realized this would restrict the potential of our European colleagues, therefore I changed the meeting language to English. Many Chinese managers were reluctant to speak English because they thought the efficiency of communication would be greatly reduced, but I was unmoved by such arguments and forced them speak English during the bi-weekly meetings. After carrying out these reform measures, the European colleagues were more heavily involved in the departmental management and business development. The effects were obvious, our revenue increased 100% after only one year!

I paid very much attention to the formal institutionalization of departmental management and was heavily involved in business development, but unfortunately I have ignored the importance of establishing and maintaining informal network of relations. The result proved to be fatal. Many Chinese managers were against me, and I also failed to win the recognition from my boss. Although I have made an unprecedented business achievement in Western Europe, I was not promoted, but replaced by another Chinese manager. After he took over my position, he immediately cancelled the bi-weekly voice conference call and changed the meeting language back to Chinese. He did not care about the formal institutionalization and localization, but I have to admit, he was very good at building informal network of relations which really plays a decisive role in an Chinese organization. Many Chinese managers praised him, and his boss also recognized him, finally, he was promoted to a higher position. Several years later, I left Huawei, now I heard that the business performance of my previous department was getting worse and worse, so that it was no longer an independent Business Unit.

Today, when I look back the reform I pushed for, it can be regarded as an attempt of institutionalization. I don’t think my efforts were wrong, institutionalization is absolutely important for any large organization, however, you can’t ignore the importance of informal network of relations, especially in an Chinese organization!

  • Erstellt von Chaoting Cheng In der Kategorie Politik政治 am 25.12.2018 20:41:00 Uhr

    zuletzt bearbeitet最后编辑: 26.12.2018 12:12
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