Vanke in Re­mote Con­trol

How I man­aged to run the busi­ness while climb­ing the moun­tain

Special Focus - - Contents - Wang Shi

At Har­vard Univer­sity Asia Cen­ter, my next- door neigh­bor was a re­tired gen­eral from the Min­istry of De­fense of Ja­pan, a one- year vis­it­ing scholar. When talk­ing with me, he had thought that I was a re­tired en­tre­pre­neur.

In fact, at Har­vard, few peo­ple be­lieved that I was still the Chair­man of the Board of China’s big­gest real es­tate agency while I was in the U.S. Was that pos­si­ble? How did you have the time to do both? How did you han­dle your work in China while you were here in the States, like the busi­ness meet­ings, board meet­ings, and share­hold­ers’ meet­ings?

Af­ter quit­ting my job of gen­eral man­ager in 1999, I no longer deal with the rou­tine work. Yet as the Chair­man of the Board, I am sure to at­tend and chair the Board meet­ings and the share­hold­ers’ meet­ings. How­ever, there might be an ex­cep­tion. I was ab­sent from the share­hold­ers’ meet­ing in April 2003, as I was climb­ing Mount Ever­est at that time. As a listed com­pany, Vanke usu­ally holds the board meet­ing at least once ev­ery three months.

How was I able to at­tend the Board meet­ing when I was in Amer­ica? I made it by means of the in­ter­net video tech­nol­ogy. Vanke has set up its video con­fer­ence sys­tem long be­fore, and I had a video soft­ware in­stalled in my com­puter. Was it pos­si­ble to at­tend the meet­ing by that in my flat? The IT sec­tion said no prob­lem, but the of­fice of the Board ex­pressed their wor­ries. Af­ter all, the set­ting of a flat did not fit in with the at­mos­phere of the con­fer­ence. There­fore, I fi­nally chose a con­fer­ence room of a lo­cal ho­tel in Bos­ton. When I got con­nected with my com­pany through the longdis­tance video sys­tem of the ho­tel’s busi­ness cen­ter, the man­ager of the cen­ter said that the equip­ment had been put in ser­vice for three years, and I was the first cus­tomer. Since then, the first has be­come a fre­quent vis­i­tor.

I sup­pose, the Chair­man of Vanke needs to do three things: first, strat­egy; sec­ond, choos­ing the right per­son for a job; third, dar­ing to take blames when things go wrong.

As to strat­egy, Vanke chose the real es­tate in­dus­try, tak­ing the road of spe­cial­iza­tion. The de­ci­sion of spe­cial­iza­tion was com­par­a­tively eas­ier. If we had cho­sen plu­ral­ism, the de­ci­sion-mak­ing would have more as­pects in­volved, thus the sit­u­a­tion would have be­come more com­plex, the cost of de­ci­sion-mak­ing be­ing higher. I once said, when China’s ur­ban­iza­tion comes to an end, and the ci­ties no longer need any hous­ing, I hope Vanke will be both the builder of and provider of ser­vice to the last res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity. This state­ment ac­tu­ally is Vanke’s strate­gic de­ci­sion, which, once de­cided, has got to be ad­hered to firmly and steadily.

Se­condly, choos­ing the right per­son for a job. As the say­ing goes, “Do not sus­pect the per­son you use, and a sus­pected man can­not be used.” My point is that, from the per­spec­tive of man­age­ment, each per­son is sus­pi­cious, me in­cluded. You must be clear about it that we are all or­di­nary peo­ple. Every­one has dual sides of jus­tice and evil, kind­ness and ug­li­ness, ori­en­ta­tion to kind­ness and wicked­ness, tol­er­ance and jeal­ousy. You’ve got to sus­pect a man when us­ing him, but it is a kind of in­sti­tu­tional sus­pi­cion. Just like the man­age­ment sys­tem, per­son­nel sys­tem, fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions, con­tract review, res­ig­na­tion au­dit etc., all of which are in­tended to re­strict the ad­min­is­tra­tors and the em­ploy­ees to

en­sure that they could avoid mak­ing mis­takes, or, they could de­tect their mis­takes and re­vise them timely.

Un­doubt­edly, peo­ple vary from per­son to per­son. There might be some able men among the or­di­nary ones. How­ever, I pre­fer not to use them. The so-called “able” men are those who can achieve what oth­ers can­not. Such kind of peo­ple might do a good job if they are in­ven­tors, or en­trepreneurs, but not so if they are the ex­ec­u­tives for en­ter­prises. As the able men love to break the rou­tine but hate to ob­serve the rules and reg­u­la­tions. It is of­ten the case that while the able men are play­ing their part in an en­ter­prise, they also bring great harm to it. In ad­di­tion, equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity, avoid­ing the in­ter­fer­ence of friends and rel­a­tives, and sim­pler in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tions should also be achieved. Fi­nally, staff is the big­gest for­tune for an en­ter­prise. If you care for them, trea­sure them, and per­sis­tent train­ing is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.

Thirdly, dar­ing to take blames when things go wrong. When an en­ter­prise fares well, the achieve­ments, honor and au­re­ole will nat­u­rally fall on the founder, and the Chair­man. What if some­thing goes wrong in the com­pany, who should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that? Of course, it is also the Chair­man. But many lead­ers don’t think so, in­stead, they shift the blame onto their in­fe­ri­ors: “What’s wrong with you? You failed to meet my trust of you, and made things in such a mess.”

When prob­lems emerge in an en­ter­prise, the top leader could not be free of re­spon­si­bil­ity. The first re­spon­si­bil­ity might be the mis­take in de­ci­sion mak­ing, which must be the leader’s re­spon­si­bil­ity; se­condly, if the de­ci­sion is right, but he chooses the wrong per­son, that is the ne­glect of his su­per­vi­sory duty, and it is still his fault. Of course, if he has made many mis­takes, it won’t do with self­crit­i­cism only. He should take the blame and re­sign from his of­fice.

In fact, I had been climb­ing moun­tains in the last decade. At that time, it would also be about two months be­fore I came back, but that didn’t af­fect Vanke’s nor­mal op­er­a­tion. And now it’s just that climb­ing moun­tains has been changed into study­ing on cam­pus. From the point of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, it’s even more con­ve­nient. I am still climb­ing moun­tains, not the phys­i­cal ones but the moun­tains of knowl­edge in my heart.

(From VIP of For­tune, March

2015. Trans­la­tion: Liu Jie)

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