SCMP | Younger, Better Educated and Not Afraid to Fail

By Edward Tse and Josie Tai

Original published by South China Morning Post on August 22, 2018. All rights reserved.

Female entrepreneurship is on the rise in China. In the 2017 Forbes list of the world’s 56 self-made women billionaires, there were 21 Chinese entrepreneurs, accounting for 37.5 per cent of the total.

In 2017, China’s female/male ratio of an index measuring entrepreneurial activity is 0.87, above the global average of 0.7. The Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity index, published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, reflects the percentage of the 18-64 population who are either a nascent entrepreneur or an owner-manager of a new business.

In fact, female entrepreneurship is not new in China. Among the older generations, women who succeeded include Yang Mianmian, Haier’s co-founder and former president who helped turn the company into one of the leading white-goods makers in the world; Sun Yafang, who was chairwoman of Huawei, the world’s leading telecommunications equipment maker, from 1999 to 2018; and Dong Mingzhu, the former chairwoman of Gree Group, the world’s largest household air conditioner maker. Younger women have also made their mark, such as Lucy Peng Lei, a co-founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba (owner of the South China Morning Post).

Before 1950, women entrepreneurs were almost unheard of in China. The strict gender roles in Chinese culture mean aspiring businesswomen face many challenges.

Source: SCMP

Why, then, are more Chinese women becoming entrepreneurs, and succeeding? Of course, both the women’s liberation movement in the West and communist China’s promotion of gender equality, especially workplace equality, have had some influence.

A closer look reveals some interesting dynamics. First, China’s women entrepreneurs are young. According to a 2017 report by the Chinese online platform 36Kr and start-up incubator GirlUp, women entrepreneurs in China today tend to concentrate in the 21-30 age group. In the national female workforce, those in the 36-45 age group predominate.

Studies in the past found that successful businesswomen cut their teeth in state-owned enterprises, where they honed their business acumen, improved their managerial skills, and saved up the capital needed to start a business. Today, more are starting from scratch, and starting earlier in their lives.

Failure is no longer stigmatised; in 36Kr’s sample, many women were second- or even third-time entrepreneurs.

Source: SCMP

Second, technology has empowered Chinese women more than ever. Several years ago, traditional sectors such as real estate and logistics were the fastest path to wealth for women. Now, new technologies are helping to unleash the internet-based economy – ranging from e-commerce and ride-hailing services to AI and robotics – that is transforming businesses. The digital economy accounted for about 32 per cent of China’s total gross domestic product in 2017, according to the China Internet Plus Index Report released by Tencent earlier this year.

Women, in particular, perceive the non-traditional industries to have lower entry barriers and a more gender-neutral environment. 36Kr found that 36 per cent of Chinese women entrepreneurs surveyed worked in the digital economy, of which around 64 per cent were in the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) ecosystem.

Tech entrepreneur Gong Haiyan is one of them. She grew up in a poor farming family in Hunan province but made it to university. While in graduate school in Shanghai, Gong paid 500 yuan (US$73) to register with a dating site to find a lifetime partner. But she discovered that the company used stolen profiles. That motivated her to start her own dating service. Like Facebook, Gong’s website, Jiayuan.com, was set up from her college dorm. Today, 15 years later, the site has nearly 190 million registered users across China.

Source: SCMP

Another example is Diane Wang Shutong, who once held senior management positions at Microsoft and Cisco, founded DHgate.com and grew the company into a leading business-to-business cross-border e-commerce platform.

Third, improvements in education attainment have also encouraged more women to strike out on their own. More Chinese are attending university overseas, and many return home to start a business. About 60 per cent of China’s women entrepreneurs were educated abroad; among them, 51 per cent attended college in the US. Having been exposed to a relatively egalitarian culture, they are bolder in seizing opportunities.

While many women entrepreneurs in the past were driven by the “poverty push” to start a business, after being laid off in the restructuring of state-owned enterprises in the 1990s, today’s cohort seem to be more motivated by the “opportunity pull”. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor has found that today’s women entrepreneurs were more opportunity-driven compared to their predecessors, even their male counterparts.

In other words, instead of seeing entrepreneurship as a last resort, these women chose to start a business because of the perceived opportunities, “pulled” by their personal ambitions and goals of success.

They face several obstacles unique to them, of course, not least gender discrimination. For example, women start-up founders are often underestimated and thus overlooked for financing opportunities, and women businesswomen, like women in other professions, are expected to commit to family and child-rearing responsibilities.

Helping and fostering the next generation of female entrepreneurs will need support from everyone – men and women, government and non-government – to create a level playing field, a safe, sustainable business environment, and a fundamental change in the traditional perception of gender roles.

Edward Tse is founder & CEO of Gao Feng Advisory Company, a global strategy and management consulting firm with roots in Greater China. Josie Tai is a research analyst at the firm.

 

新浪财经 | 企业的意志

文| 谢祖墀

企业的意志是企业激情的前提,面对巨大的机会或强劲的威胁时,它能够充分调动一个组织的潜能,去建立共同的意识,驱动企业的全部去为其愿景而做出努力

在今天指数颠覆的时代里,关于企业如何取得持续的成功和建立指数型组织,许多人已经做了不少研究,亦各自发表了许多不同的意见。

多年来我与不少不同的企业进行了合作,为他们提供了关键的咨询意见,同时亦与不少风险投资公司进行了对于初创投资方向的探讨。在此过程中接触到的事物,让我不断反省以前经典的管理理论和分析方法在今天快速变化时代里,特别在中国,是否还可适用。

我的答案是一部分还可以,但很大部分传统的概念已经不适时宜,与时代脱了节,甚至可以说,倘若今天企业领导者仍然依照传统的战略和管理的打法,往往会将一家企业的前途完全断送。

我觉得在今天的大时代里,“企业的意志”变得特别重要。我不知道是否有人曾提出过这个概念,而我自己却在近年来观察不少企业的运作时,逐渐感受到企业的意志的重要性。

简单来说,企业的意志代表企业集体对其所追求目标的愿望和决心。人是有意志的,当一群人组成企业的时候,众人的意志集合成了企业的意志。

企业的意志从何而来?企业或群体的意志一般由一些诱因引起。从正面来看,某些诱因可能是集体所共同追求的目标,也即“梦想”。据著名物理学家加来道雄(Michio Kaku)说,人类的“梦想”是现实的重构。在企业中亦是如此。当一企业集体希望达到某种不是唾手便可得的追求时,这往往成为企业意志的主要驱动力。从反面来看,当企业受到外界威胁,特别是竞争的冲击时,它需要奋起抵抗,这亦可是企业意志的诱因。

企业的意志由四方面组成:

一、愿景和战略

企业应该拥有怎样的愿景和战略?清晰和模糊的战略愿景,哪个更有利于企业的发展?我认为,企业在早期不一定需要追求清晰的战略和商业模式。一切都是混沌初开,不可能有清晰的战略。当然,随着企业的发展,愿景和战略可逐渐地清晰化。

源自西方的传统静态定位论和能力理论在今天瞬息万变的环境下已不再适用,当今企业的战略要点是在动态环境中实现多维度的平衡。公司应根据市场及自身变化,适时调整战略,和适时进行变革管理。

持续成功的企业在面对快速变化带来的新的机会时,会平衡各机会和自身能力,而决定是否需要“跳跃”到自己原本的“核心”外以抓住这些机会。在跳跃之后,他们必须产生强劲的冲击力来“冲刺”,以弥补在跳跃过程中所产生的能力空缺。他们通过“连续跳跃”在“边缘上竞争”,不断地进行调整和优化,把边缘变成自己新的核心,并不断循环。当然,他们都是以客户为中心。

二、领导力

强大的企业意志取决于企业的领导力。我在博思艾伦咨询公司(Booz Allen Hamilton)时,我们在领导力方面做了不少研究。我们发现,成功的企业领导者都是“Zealot(狂热者)”。“狂热者”们通常是不脱离现实的愿景者,对今天取得的成果充满激情,为明天创造出色的业务,并会不断为员工开拓发展机会。

很多出色企业的领导人都具备这种“狂热者”的特质,例如史蒂夫•乔布斯(Steve Jobs),杰夫•贝佐斯(Jeff Bezos),安迪•格鲁夫(AndyGrove)等,他们领导着强大企业意志的建立。“狂热者”们通常都拥有跳跃性思维,他们拥有独立的动机,对组织的成功抱有极大的责任感。在面对新的机会时,他们不会固守边界,而是会积极地通过战略性的“跳跃”来扩大业务的边界。他们多是魅力型领袖,通常充满活力、魅力和创造力,拥有强大的执行力和领导力,能够带领团队保持强大的向上的冲劲,最终取得成功。此外,他们也深蕴公司文化,懂得自己的企业在每个阶段需要什么样的基因、文化和组织体系,并会通过强大的执行力去执行和改造。

三、组织形态和意识

在变革的时代,在边缘上竞争代表企业必须适时地调整和变革其组织形态,以适应新的发展模式。长期的固化不可取,但亦不能过度地因改而改。企业对于组织的变革,必须基于自身的追求、价值观和愿景驱动。传统的从上到下的组织形态早已不适合时代,赋能前台,建立扁平,去中心化的包容、开放的生态系统才能充分发挥组织的作用。

企业的意识需要适当的组织形态来配合,而组织意识到意志的重要性,将组织的潜能充分发挥出来。

良好的企业潜意识可以充分激发组织的好奇心。我曾受全球领先科技公司默克(Merck)委托,协助其进行关于组织好奇心方面的研究。最终我们发现,保持好奇心是促使企业创新的重要驱动力。

四、一致性

企业意志的构建,除愿景和战略,领导力,组织形态和意识之外,更需要在其三者之间建立足够的一致性。唯有当它们最大化协同,企业才能够真正拥有意志,并在意志的驱动下取得最终的进步与成功。
企业的意识需要适当的组织形态来配合,而组织意识到意志的重要性,将组织的潜能充分发挥出来

企业成功需要强烈的意志。

企业的意志是企业激情的前提,面对巨大的机会或强劲的威胁时,它能够充分调动一个组织的潜能,去建立共同的意识,驱动企业的全部去为其愿景而做出努力。当一个企业拥有强大意志的时候,它往往能够排除万难,达到成功。

相反,当一个企业失去了意志,无论它曾经多么辉煌,在面对问题时,往往会无能为力。历史上中国晚清时代的消亡就是一个经典的例子,当时的清朝已经失去了整体的意志,庞大的军队也没能抵抗数万人组成的八国联军的侵略,最终走向灭亡。

对企业或任何组织而言,建立和维持强大的意志极为重要。

原文发表于《亚布力观点》(2018年8月刊)并保留所有权利

(注:本文图片均来自网络)

关于作者:
谢祖墀博士(Dr. Edward Tse)是高风管理咨询公司(Gao Feng Advisory Company)的创始人兼首席执行官。中国管理咨询业的先行者。过去的20年里,他创立并领导了两大国际管理咨询公司在大中华区的业务。外界评价他为“中国的全球领先商业战略家”和 “谢博士之于中国企业界就如大前研一之于日本企业界”。他曾为数以百计的公司(总部设在中国及其它地区)咨询过所有关键战略和管理方面的业务,涉及中国的各个方面和中国在全球的地位。他还为中国政府在战略、国有企业改革和中国企业走出国门等方面做过咨询。他已发表200多篇文章并出版了4本书,其中包括于国际获奖的《中国战略》和《创业家精神》。谢博士获得了加州大学伯克利分校工程学博士、MBA以及麻省理工学院的工程学学士、硕士。