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Going from 0 to 390 billion: Three images unlock the secret to Huawei's growth

(People's Daily Online)    10:19, February 18, 2016

390 billion RMB. In 2015, Huawei's revenue reached new historic heights, and its business grew at a record rate. Compared to 20.6% growth in 2014, and 8.5% in 2013, Huawei's annual revenue in 2015 increased by 35.3% year-over-year. While Cisco and Ericsson were in a financial slump, and IT giants were trimming down their operations with non-stop layoffs, Huawei experienced unprecedented growth.

Needless to say, at 28 years old, Huawei is at its strongest yet. Competitors are disappearing left and right, and yet Huawei continues to grow stronger. Its carrier business surpassed Ericsson and now leads the flock. Its consumer business is firmly planted at number three in the world, and development in its enterprise business has thrown open the doors to a multi-billion-dollar market. Starting in 2011, Huawei split its operations into these three different business groups: carrier, enterprise, and consumer. And 2015 has served to validate that strategy.

There's a saying in Chinese chess (xiàngqí), "When these three pieces cross the river, the general's knees begin to quiver." In this game, each player has 16 pieces. As long as you keep the chariot, horse, and cannon close together on the enemy's flank, you can arrange these three attack pieces into all sorts of deadly formations. In the trillion-dollar ICT market, Huawei's focus on cloud, pipe, and device are these so-called "three pieces that crossed the river." Their strategy is focused, their direction is clear, and they reject short-term opportunism. They throw themselves into their work with fervor, and the ground quakes beneath their advancing cavalry. And when their technology—like artillery—is ready and in position, they strike out as one like a pack of wolves, with strategic breakthrough just beyond the horizon.

So how did Huawei's people build the company into what it is today? Many of those on the outside have tried to interpret Huawei's growth from a number of different perspectives. But without a doubt, Huawei's people know themselves the best. From the professor Li Xiaowen's modest cloth shoes, then a ballet dancer's feet, to Florence Griffith Joyner in full sprint, footsteps have been a running theme of Huawei's advertising for the past few years. This theme is based on Huawei's core values and methodology: their work begins with solid fundamentals, and proceeds step by step with a long-term focus on pipe innovation; their people persevere over great lengths of time and, in the end, they achieve strategic breakthrough.

At the beginning of the year, Huawei revealed the path to its success with the "Focus. Persevere. Breakthrough." ad campaign, which explores ongoing strategic focus, strategic investment, and the relentless pursuit of strategic breakthrough.

1. Strategic Focus: Inspired by the Wagenia Fisherman

In 2010, Irish photographer Andrew McConnell captured the moment when a Wagenia man plunged forward to catch fish near Boyoma Falls in the Congo River.

The Congo River is one of the few undeveloped rivers in the world. In 1846, explorer Henry Morton Stanley was the first outsider to travel the entire length of the river, where he discovered a unique fishing technique used by the Wagenia people in what's now the Democratic Republic of Congo. They build wooden frames above the rapids, and stand on top of them using woven wood baskets to catch fish.

The sheer force of the water is incredible, and fish are swept right up into the baskets. The more rapid the current, the more fish there are to catch. And while the river provides a rich bounty, it can be fatal too. Fishermen who let their attention stray for even the slightest moment can be swept away in the rapids. This technique has endured for hundreds of years.

In the eyes of the photographer and his audience, the focus of the piece is often the primitive and wild appeal of the Wagenia man's fishing technique. To Huawei, the most appealing element of the fisherman's technique is focus itself. "The Wagenia place their baskets in the Congo River, where the rapids flow at 28,000m3/s. When they fish, they need to maintain sharp focus. If their baskets fall into the river, they can't get out of the way and will be swept away in the rapids. Similarly, Huawei focuses on strategic opportunities in a massive flood of data, never wasting its competitive energy on non-strategic pursuits."

You'll frequently here about strategic focus in relation to Huawei. As awareness of the Huawei brand increases, strategic focus is discussed more and more regularly in all types of forums by senior executives from traditional industries and new "Internet+" players alike. But what does Huawei mean by strategic focus, and how is that captured in the image of the Wagenia fisherman?

To quote Ren Zhengfei, "Huawei only allows employees to leverage their initiative and creativity in areas that align with the company's strategic business focus. Blind innovation would simply disperse Huawei's investment and energy. For areas of non-strategic business, it's wise to learn from successful companies: maintain stable and reliable operations, and keep management systems rational, effective, and as simple as possible. We must avoid innovating blindly. If people are crying out for innovation in all directions, it will be Huawei's death knell. We can only surpass our competitors if we hone our focus to an area the size of a needle's tip. If we enlarge it to the size of a match head or the end of a stick, then surpassing them is out of the question."

In October 2015, Ren Zhengfei gave a speech entitled Focusing on Our Core Business to Seize Strategic Opportunities, in which he said, "It's been a rough 28 years. Huawei has remained focused on our strategic business of ICT infrastructure. Over the past 28 years, over 100,000 people have fixed our sights on a single opening in the gates, charging it over and over again. Huawei's investment strategy is just that: Fast beats slow. Focusing on one point is actually a fast-beats-slow strategy. That's why it generates results."


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(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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