In this 2019 interview between INSEAD professor Felipe Monteiro and Haier Founder Zhang Ruimin, Zhang explains his vision of entrepreneurial talent and innovation, as well as the mechanisms in place to foster this culture of innovation within his company. In particular, he emphasizes the importance of listening to users’ needs in order to develop innovative and quality products.
Zhang Ruimin also discusses Haier’s acquisition of Sanyo in Japan and General Electric Appliances in the US. As regards Sanyo, he describes the challenges of getting the team, which had a more traditional culture, to understand Haier’s corporate culture. He emphasizes the need to encourage performance and innovation rather than just submission to hierarchy. Regarding GEA, he highlights the challenge to implement Haier’s disruptive model, Rendanheyi, in a company with more than 100 years of existence and well-established processes.
Finally, after highlighting the significance of entrepreneurial talent in an ever-evolving world, Zhang Ruimin concludes by sharing his aspiration for his legacy. He wishes to be remembered as a pioneer who demonstrated that organizations can function like living ecosystems rather than inflexible structures.
A graduate of HEC Paris and CentraleSupélec, Jérôme Delacroix began his career at management and organizational consulting giant Accenture, before turning to marketing, writing and entrepreneurship.
Jérôme has been to China more than 12 times and is learning Mandarin Chinese. He hosts a YouTube channel dedicated to the Internet in China.