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Stan Shih Explores “Wangdaoist” Culture at CEIBS

June 05, 2012

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June 5, 2012. Shanghai Campus – Mr. Stan Shih Chairman of iD SoftCapital Group, Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Acer Group, and Chairman of National Culture and Arts Foundation, today paid his first visit to CEIBS since joining the school’s International Advisory Board (see related story). It was Mr. Shih’s fourth visit to CEIBS, over the years, and he delivered a well-received lecture entitled “Promote ‘Wangdaoist’ Culture for Sustainability”. His lecture was part of the popular CEIBS Executive Forum series.

Stan Shih Explores “Wangdaoist” Culture at CEIBS
Chairman of iD SoftCapital Group, Stan Shih speaking on “Wangdaoist” Culture

The evening event attracted an audience more than 200, including CEIBS faculty, MBA and EMBA students, alumni and staff, as well as members of the business community.

Stan Shih Explores “Wangdaoist” Culture at CEIBS
CEIBS Dean John Quelch delivering the welcome address

In delivering the welcome address, CEIBS Vice President and Dean John Quelch spoke of Mr. Shih’s longstanding friendship with the school, dating back to the establishment of the Shanghai Campus. He also spoke of Mr. Shih’s successful career at Acer – “Taiwan’s first true, multi-national enterprise” – and the new venture he established after retiring from Acer Group in 2004, iD SoftCapital Group.

“How can we apply the Confucian idea of Wangdao, which was created by Mencius more than 2500 years ago, to use our ancestors’ legacy to promote the sustainability of enterprises?” asked Mr. Shih as he began his lecture. He pointed out that every enterprise desires sustainability. Instilling Wangdaoism as part of the corporate culture, he said, would ensure prosperity and sustainability.  The key, he said, was in getting all staff members to buy into the concept.

Providing specifics, Mr. Shih presented three key elements of Wangdao in terms of running a business: “value creation”, “balance of interests” and “sustainable business”. Six factors that need to be balanced in the search for value creation, he explained, include both the tangible and intangible, direct and indirect, the present and future. Turning his attention to the challenging act of balancing interests, Mr. Shih told the audience that social values are jointly created by all stakeholders and interests and its is a leader’s job to find the right balance.

In the bid to illustrate his argument more forcefully, Mr. Shih shared his personal motto with the audience: “Challenge difficulties, break through bottlenecks and create value”.  His approach, he added has always been to avoid the “me too” approach. “I’m going to be different from others,” he said, adding that this approach has served him well in breaking through bottlenecks that block the creation of value. Innovation, which comes from reverse thinking, he explained, was the key to overcoming bottlenecks.

Stan Shih Explores “Wangdaoist” Culture at CEIBS
Attentive audience

Mr. Shih then shared how his motto and approach had helped Acer become a success: the company had seized the opportunity of the second industrial revolution to break through traditional cultural bottlenecks. He also spoke about how Wangdao, which he defined as “an all-pervading unity”, had been implemented at Acer. Employees benefitted from profit sharing and a stake ownership plan; an employment termination plan was implemented that cushions the blow of job loss by offering above-industry severance pay and a letter to employee’s families expressing regret at the termination; a professional manager training programme to cultivate 100 CEOs; and more.

During his speech, Mr. Shih also explored the respective linkages between Wangdao and innovation, competition, branding, reform and globalization. The key, he stressed, is for both company executives and their employees to fully grasp the concept and then act on implementation.

Audience members posed challenging questions during the Q&A that followed. Topics included: Acer’s globalization plan for the future and whether Apple’s operational strategy is Wangdao or not. In responding, Mr. Shih said that the Wangdao concept will help Acer’s global development and its ability to attract more international talent. In terms of Apple, he stressed that Wangdao is a dynamic activity, one which the company is currently implementing and one which he hopes it will continue to pursue.

Stan Shih Explores “Wangdaoist” Culture at CEIBS
Mr Shih accepts a gift, to commemorate the event, from Prof. Terrence Tsai

Mr. Shih’s lecture was the culmination of an afternoon of activities on the CEIBS Campus. He was received by CEIBS President Prof. Zhu Xiaoming and Co-Dean and Vice President Prof. Zhang Weijiong, and during the day had meetings with Dean John Quelch as well as other CEIBS faculty.

Writer: June Zhu
Editor: Charmaine N. Clarke
Photo editor: Ewan Lin