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Three brains are better than one

Read time 1min 40sec

When any company holds a global gathering of customers, partners and the media with 20 000 invited guests, the CEO naturally wants to make a keynote speech.

Perhaps that's why the Huawei Connect event ran over three days in Shanghai - so all three CEOs could take their turn on stage.

The Chinese technology company has intrigued business analysts for years with its highly unusual policy of having not one man in the hot seat, but three. Its founder Ren Zhengfei was apparently inspired by the way ducks migrate in the classic 'V' formation. If you watch for a while, you'll notice that leader of the formation changes regularly, with one slipping back to let another set the pace, while continuing in the same overall direction.

Zhengfei decided to counteract the risk of allowing just one leader to wield unshakeable control by adopting this pattern from nature. The strategy has been in place since 2011, and the group's increasing success may well have something to do with that strength in numbers.

One insider explained that it prevents the CEO from becoming complacent, and avoids the risk of cliques forming or undue favouritism influencing business decisions. Nobody can suck up to the boss when there are three of them, and fresh ideas will get a chance to flourish.

The rotating CEOs, Guo Ping, Ken Hu and Eric Xu, take turns to head the company for six months at a time. They all got a chance to deliver a keynote at Huawei Connect too, and business analysts would have been relieved to hear that their messages were noticeably consistent.

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