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How I Did It: Lessons from the Front Lines of Business by Daniel McGinn, Harvard Business Review

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Tsingtao’s Chairman on Jump-Starting a Sluggish Company

by Jin Zhiguo

Jin Zhiguo is the chairman of Tsingtao Brewery.

The Idea

Western executives may complain that their organizations are bureaucratic, inbred, or risk averse, but few companies display these attributes as vividly as the ones controlled by the Chinese state. Here’s how a fledgling CEO instituted reform.

In 1995 I was the assistant managing director of Tsingtao’s first brewery, and we’d had a very good year. To celebrate, I took our employees on an outing to Laoshan, a beautiful mountain near the plant, for a day of hiking. While climbing the mountain, I received a message on my pager from my boss: “Get back now.” I rushed to the office, where I was told that Tsingtao’s management ...

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