From a college student directly to a corporate leader, and now you have led ZWSOFT for 20 years. How did you understand management?
In the first few years of the business, I had been undertaking all the positions by myself, from R&D to technical support to sales. I have always been working with everyone. So, in my opinion, management is subtly driving people around you to work, or you can also understand it as uniting a group of people to do something great together
. That’s it.
Over the past 20 years, what do you think is the most important assets to ZWSOFT?
When I just graduated, someone told me that if you want to do something, you’ll need a team, but it takes 10-15 years to build this team. So our team, together with their trust and tacit understanding to each other accumulated for 20 years are the most valuable treasure to ZWSOFT. Right now, more than 70 employees have worked for over 10 years in ZWSOFT, and more than 100 over 5 years. The number of masters and doctors exceeds 50%. They are all that I cherish most.
Another treasure is a kind of culture. This may sound a little bit abstract because culture is hard to be defined by words. You can look at it this way – when our employees are standing with employees from other companies, it is just different. We have this group of people, who share the same value, the same belief and the same vision. It is these similar things that make up our culture.
So, what do you think is a great team?
A great team in my eyes is, first and foremost, united, cohesive, and able to support each other while maximizing each other’s strength. Furthermore, it is always ready to serve and put themselves in the clients’ shoes.
For example, the R&D team should not base on what they want but what the clients need when developing new functions; the sales team should keep following the clients to see whether they are satisfied or have difficulties, instead of thinking everything is done after receiving the money. I believe everyone understands these, but they are harder than they look. Yet, we will still be doing it wholeheartedly. In short, I regard a team that is united, hardworking and ready to serve as a great team.
At 2018 ZWCAD Europe Forum, Product Manager Daniel was hearing the user voice from European partners.
You mentioned a kind of culture, can you make it more concrete?
There are two principles that have influenced us deeply. One is simple and clear
. Everyone just does his or her job earnestly, and takes good care of their health and families. Nothing more. No personal conflicts, no company politics, and reduce the internal consumption to the minimum. However, simplification is a philosophy – simplifying a problem is definitely not laziness; instead, it’s actually a very difficult thing. Simplifying a complicated problem is an amazing ability, while complicating a simple problem is on the contrary.
The other one is struggle. Loose and diligence have their corresponding results. For the past 20 years, I can strongly feel this spirit of struggle from our people.
You also mentioned that more than 70 employees have worked in ZWSOFT for over 10 years. This employee retention rate is actually not low. What attracts them to stay?
I always believe that employees are not merely employees, they should be our partners.
It’s important that people feel they are a part of the company and share its current and future success. That’s why we let as much employees as possible to be shareholders in 2007 or 2008, which is meaningful since it brought them a sense of participation and belonging. It took us 10 years to let almost 200 of them share our stocks. We also share with our employees every dollar or every yuan we’ve earned through the design of performance evaluation. Benefit sharing is what we keep trying to do better.
Another point is the balance between work and life. Unlike the so-called “wolf culture” which many companies are going for, I don’t really encourage working overtime. I insist that people need to have their own life, and take their own time to improve themselves, to do exercise, and to accompany their families. I hate driving people crazy or forcing them into a high-intensity condition. If, in the end, good health or the family relationship is broken, how much you earn and how successful you are will both be meaningless. I value inner peace and balanced development, which may not be so competitive in the short term; however, I believe it is potential and sustainable in the long run.
ZWSOFT basketball competition
What about you? How do you achieve that balance?
I relax myself through various hobbies. I am very good at playing badminton and play three to four times a week. No matter how stressed I am, as long as I play it and sweat profusely, everything goes right. I’ve also been crazy about piano recently and play for half to an hour every day. I really enjoy it. I treat my hobbies as some kind of meditation that calms me down. It means a lot to me.
Creativity is very crucial to technology-based corporations like ZWSOFT. So how do you stimulate employees’ creativity?
We believe that the true cultivation is practice.
ZWSOFT is still at the stage of rapid growth, which I think is quite precious, because we can give our employees the freedom to try the things that may not have been tried before. So we also let them explore and fail, because people learn from their failures. We don’t have a methodology that seems to be scientific to judge one’s ability. We just let you do a thing; if you do it well, you can do a greater one. Alike, we let you lead a team; if you lead it well, you can lead a bigger one.
You could review other parts of this series here!
Part 1: Beginner’s Mind: Bigger and Better
Part 3: All-in-one CAx (1)
Part 4: Cooperation > Competition
Part 5: Next 20 Years: Stay True to the Mission