Tang Ning's speech record: deciphering the secret of the organization not being subverted
On 26th October, the second Ram Charan Management Practice Award presentation ceremony was held in Beijing. The ceremony was hosted by the Chinese edition of Harvard Business Review and supported by CreditEase Wealth Management as a "whole-course engagement partner".
The first Ram Charan Management Practice Award came out of the cocoon in 2017, and the 2018 award has attracted much attention from all walks of life since its inception. Since the initiation of case collection in April 2018, and after six months of collection and selection, 17 top scholars from first-class domestic business schools have finalized the following 2018 Ram Charan Management Practice Awards by taking five dimensions into comprehensive consideration such as guidance, effectiveness, sustainability, reference and leadership: 3 grand prizes, 20 outstanding cases, this year's newly-introduced Innovation and Entrepreneurship Practice Award, Human Resources Practice Award, Strategic Transformation Practice Award, and Marketing Practice Award.
At the award ceremony, Tang Ning, Founder and CEO of CreditEase, gave a keynote speech to share with you about the new technology era and how enterprises should be transformed so as not to be subverted. Fundamentally, it is inevitable that businesses and organizations are subverted. The case is whether they are subverted by themselves or not, and only the ones who undergo self-subversion can avoid being subverted, Tang Ning said.
The following is from Tang Ning's speech record
It's a great honor to have this opportunity to see the grand occasion of the Ram Charan Management Practice Award in its second year in China, which originated from an idea I have communicated with Master Ram Charan two years ago. At that time, I and the CreditEase team had greatly benefited from the advanced western management practices and theories represented by Master Ram Charan. So, when I learned that the United States had such an award, I thought that China should also have the award. China, especially Chinese private entrepreneurs should learn from the world's top-class management practices. Over the past 12 years, CreditEase's wealth management business has served the best entrepreneurs in China, and our entrepreneurial and affluent first generation has shown very high enthusiasm for management strategies. It is very meaningful and valuable to have such a prize coming to China.
How can businesses keep growing? We always have to face this question in the course of serving entrepreneurs. Today's theme is "new technology, new management". "New" is the key word. When the new subversion arrives, what should the existing entrepreneurs do? When an old revolutionist encounters new problems, does subversion mean death? So today's sharing is not only a 12-year experience of CreditEase, but also a summary of the experiences and lessons of the tens and thousands of outstanding entrepreneurs we have served in China.
I want to say that "not to be subverted" requires us to be a big "small company" forever. When we starts our business and the organization is very small, we think big, have a big dream and express our dream to the talents we recruit. When the organization grows bigger, it is necessary for us to think small. What does that mean?Larger organizations need to maintain the advantages of small companies and organizations, that is, very flat, very efficient, very flexible, very innovative, and maintaining the original intention and corporate culture of small companies.
How can we do this? Technology can help us do that. Today, thousands of CreditEase financial planners engaging in global wealth management business can receive messages from me in real time at the same time. If we follow the past management logic to report from one level to other other, the market would have long changed when the most grass-roots colleagues receive my views.
How to flatten an organization? The organizations in the new era should no longer follow the logic of reporting to higher levels and transmitting to lower levels. For ten years, CreditEase has insisted on holding a CEO symposium on Friday at 4:00 to 6:00 in the last week of each month. In the past the conference room can contain all of us. Now, colleagues call in from around the world and dozens of colleagues are seated in the conference room where any question can be asked. It is very flat and very transparent. Teams learn and grow together while discarding the old-fashioned way of learning. A teacher will give lectures to a group of students. Our knowledge points become very interesting videos and games. Colleagues can do in-depth interaction on the way, which greatly reduces the cost of learning. Besides, external customers can also participate in our learning process. The real secret of customer development is to empower the customer and let customers understand what you're doing and why you're right.
How can we not be subverted? The arrival of science and technology brings new management methods. We must do something or take the initiative or wait to die, so fundamentally speaking, the subversion of organizations is inevitable. The difference is by whom an organization is subverted, i.e., whether it is subverted by itself to come to new life, or by others. A key word in the course of remodeling an organization is "capacity building," which means that a new organization has new life and must have new capabilities. An important sign of success in self-subversion is the growth of new muscles and the acquisition of new skills. It should be noted that it is the whole organization or company rather than merely one or two employees or one or two teams in the organization acquire new skills.
When I talk about capability building, many CreditEase colleagues do not understand what capability building is. So, I'd like to give you an example to explain what capacity building is and what the acquisition of new capabilities is. I want every one of you to think whether you can ride a bicycle? Most of us can. Then when you ride a bicycle, will you think about how to ride it? No, it's in your DNA and in your conventional logic. You're not going to think about it anymore and you've mastered the skill. So what did you think about cycling when you could not ride a bicycle? Very frightened, very uneasy, very uncomfortable, stumbled and felt why someone was flying like a horse, but you couldn't. This is the difference between having the skill and having not. Managers must be painful in building new capabilities in an organization, because it's so hard to build new capabilities, and it might turn out to be a failure even when you are at full stretch. This inertia is very strong.
Well, how long will it take for an organization to build new capabilities? I think that an organization reshapes itself every five years, which means that today's organization is different from before as it has absorbed new capabilities. After five years, the organization is very different from today's organization as it has built new capabilities, provides serves for more customers, serves existing customers in different ways and so on. When I talked to my CreditEase colleagues about these five-year numbers, they said it's too long and nowadays, technology is changing with each passing day. If we do not change our memory quickly, we'll fall behind, really? As Master Ram Charan told you just now, many technologies do not change the world overnight. They have been around for a long time. So we have time to build capabilities, but the key is to think, to start, do the right thing and stick to it.
It is really very difficult to build new capabilities, so how do we do that? CreditEase has a three-step strategy. As you may see, the three-step strategy may be meaningless, like how to shut the elephant in the refrigerator: the first step is to open the door, the second to put the elephant in, and the third to close the door. CreditEase's three-step methodology can be summarized as follows: firstly, to define point B, which requires managers and entrepreneurs to have imagination and learning capabilities and clear goals; secondly, to outline the generally right path from point A to point B, which is also a part of the strategy. But it is impossible to make it completely clear because no one knows the completely correct path from point A to point B, but the sharing must be correct and the general path must be in place; thirdly, firm and flexible implementation, which is a contradiction that requires both persistence and flexibility. Flexibility means change with the internal and external market conditions. So, the elephant is finally put into the fridge.
Finally, what I want to share with you is that everything should be centered on customer's future needs. I strongly agree that we should focus on customer needs, but we must focus on the future needs of our customers. It takes two, four or even five years to build new capabilities. If you're after what the customer wants today, by the time you build the capabilities, the customer is gone. Just like when we hit a flying saucer, it is impossible for us to hit it if we aim at where it is now. We must aim at where it is going. Likely, we must aim at where the customer will be in five or ten years.
We always place a chair of different color for our customers when we hold an in-house meeting, which is the best practice we learn from Amazon. Bezos always puts a chair of different color at meetings to remind that customers are sitting around us. "When we have a good performance this quarter, there will be congratulatory calls from all sides. I do well this quarter because I did well three years ago. What I did this quarter will not be known until three years later," said Bezos in a recent interview. Therefore, only to center on customers' future needs can enable us to seize new opportunities in the new era, use new technology and new management methods to win in the future and avoid being subverted.