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Is China's leadership ready for innovation?

As the leader, they are only two ways to influence your team and your customers: to manipulate or to inspire.
Despite the enduring myth of the lone genius, innovation does not take place in isolation. Truly productive invention requires the meeting of minds from myriad perspectives. Most innovations are created through networks -- groups of people working in concert. The company will gain an edge on promoting collaboration and the internal collision of ideas, which can yield surprising new insights and business opportunities. Leaders are accountable to assemble teams and lead them to optimal performance outcomes.  An effective leader recognizes the importance of embracing differences in people and knows how to connect the dots amongst those differences to get the best outcomes from the team. This is what cultivates a workplace environment of continuous improvements, innovation and initiative. 
In September 10, 2014 during World Economic Forum in Tianjin, Heidrick & Struggles' has proposed “China's shift towards innovation-led economy depends on adoption of world-class CEO leadership model”, one of the key quality of this leadership model is "Empowering and energizing ": Innovative CEOs and executives create an empowered organizational culture that rewards creative thinking. They instill a company culture that allows and encourages employees to take risks and think out of the box.
In China, there is a huge gap between the leaders now and the leaders who are capable of inspire and orchestrating creative teams. According to McKinsey’s research, too often, in many Chinese companies, traditional organizational and conformist cultural barriers inhibit such exchanges. Although a lot of these companies have become more professional and adept at delivering products in large volumes, their ability to scale up an organization that can work collaboratively has not kept pace. Their rigorous, linear processes for bringing new products to market ensure rapid commercialization but create too many hand-offs where insights are lost and trade-offs for efficiency are promoted.
But there is hope, several large Chinese companies have started to re-construct their company organizational structure and serve the company as the platform and investment body for their own employee. China’s largest home appliance company Haire has gone even further to eliminate their entire middle management and empower all of the employees to become “the maker of the future”. There are only three type of employees in the company: “Platform team, micro-entrepreneur, team of micro-entrepreneur. Within half year of this strategy, 169 micro-companies have been set up by Haire employees. Certainly there are many pains Haire has to go through during this reform, and nobody knows whether this experiment will succeed, but it is definitely a radical way of pushing people out of their box and taking control of their own destiny by being creative and collaborative across the organization.
So, Can China innovate?
My answer is yes. We have seen so many world-class innovation happening in genome industry, solar-powered industry, hydro-electricity industry, heavy-machinery industry in China. Companies such as alibaba, tecent and Huawei are reshaping our ways to buy, to communicate, to pay, to travel and to learn. And we will have more great innovation coming out this country to impact the world, only if our leaders could have a new mindsets , stay true to themselves, cares about the impact they are generating for their users, want to achieve together rather than alone and never stop to learn, unlearn and relearn.
But is it easy? The answer is definitely no. Think about the river as metaphor, as the challenge we will be facing become more and more complex, probably we should not call ourselves a problem solver, we are merely a dilemma manager. In his famous book “Leaders make the future” The director of Institute of the future Bob Johansen argues: In a VUCA world – one characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity , and ambiguity, leaders should define unsolvable challenges as both a threat and an opportunity.  
For me I think the most important thinking pattern for this is “design thinking”. The essence of design thinking comparing to business thinking is that “we embrace every problem and challenge with the gift of not knowing.” Not knowing used to be something to be ashamed of or even a taboo, but it has turned to become the most normal thing in our workplace in the future while the knowledge is being updated with the speed of light. While the problems we are facing are becoming super complex, not knowing allows us to sense the world with different mindsets and deep empathy, it enables us to work through a problem without being limited to an assumed answer. We don’t take a “no” for “no”, we ask “Why not?” and “What if?” to envision the new possibility and a better future. Once we grasp something, we make it happen in baby steps, learn from the mistakes along the way. This is the process of business innovation, it is also a process of going from “who we are” to “who we could be”.
One good example in China is the Rapid Prototyping model employed by many Chinese innovator, which involves close interaction and iteration with customers. These rapid prototyping could be a simple product or quickly copied product or service. When the initial engagement with the nearby customers happens, the user feedback and more resources come in, they will facilitates the iterative development of products and sales process. This is typically strategy if you have a very tight constraint in terms of funding, time and fierce competition. It is also one of the most important process of design thinking.
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