In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with an old friend of Todd's, Mark Greeven. Mark is a Chinese-speaking Dutch Professor of Innovation and Strategy at the Institute of Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, however, Mark has a long and storied career in China the predates his recent move to Europe. He is also the author of 2 books both published by MIT Sloan, the first in 2017 Business Ecosystems in China: Alibaba and Competing Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi and LeEco, and his second published in 2019, Pioneers, Hidden Campions, Changemakers, and Underdogs: Lesson from China’s Innovators, as well as several very good articles that I also recommend you go find and read. Needless to say, we spend a good amount of time asking Mark about his books and explaining what he means using terms like hidden champions as a class of innovators, or what he means by swarm innovation and rapid centralized decision making when referring to the 6 typical was Chinese entrepreneurs innovate. We close out the conversation discussing a famous Chinese manufacturing giant who has set the bar for surviving the pandemic, economically speaking, deep-diving into how the structure of their organization has allowed them to set the high watermark for enterprise resiliency during these difficult times due to COVID-19. Enjoy!
Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with author and educator Mark Greeven. He is a former Associate Professor at Zhejiang University’s School of Management in Hangzhou, China. Today, Mark serves as Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The biggest difference between teaching at Zhejiang and at IMD is that the former “has all the features of a bureaucracy that you could imagine when it comes to state-run public institutions.” Despite the limitations imposed on Mark during his time at Zhejiang, he found it refreshing that the students were nevertheless eager to learn anything that Mark was willing to teach.
If a foreigner is considering doing business in China, it pays to know the culture and the ecosystems that are unique to the country. Mark says that it will help greatly to familiarize oneself with all the eCommerce and social media platforms that essentially run the modern Chinese economy.
In China, Mark classifies four types of innovators who help shape the country’s business landscape on a cyclical basis. The first type is the pioneers: usually large, well-known business entities who kickstart or capitalize on new systems or technologies that will continue to evolve, such as manufacturing (in the 1980s) and the internet (in the 2000s). The second group is the hidden champions: lesser-known companies who are proficient when it comes to one specific technology, application, or industrial product. The third type is the technology underdogs: mostly younger companies founded by overseas returnees with newfound prestigious academic accolades. The fourth and final group is the changemakers: digital-driven ventures who believe in rapid iterations and offer disruptive new ideas for traditional industries.
Everything in China is always moving. In fact, Mark considers 2015 as having occurred “eons ago”. Countless waves of creativity and innovation have come and gone since. The Chinese, in times past, were not known to be inventors of new technologies as much as they were known to be able to adapt and mass-produce products that come from these technologies. Today, things have changed. When it comes to software engineering, AI, and biotechnology, China is now at the forefront of many breakthrough technologies.
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Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.
The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.