Dec 19th 2007

A role model, of sorts

帝王之术的最佳教材

Books on management tend to define success in the broadest possible terms—great product, happy employees, continuous improvement, gobs of profits, crushed competitors. Even when words such as “excellence” and“success” are omitted from the title, they are often implicit. A case in point is the book which many would say defined the genre, AlfredSloan’s “My Years with General Motors”, published in 1963 when GMwas still an iconic company and Sloan correctly acknowledged as the architect of the well-run, decentralised, global corporation.

管理学著作中定义的一个完美的成功团队具有以下特质:极高的绩效,团队成员在工作中感到愉快,团队持续的自我提升,产生超额的利润,让竞争对手毫无立足之 地。对于这样一个团队,即使他们不自称是一流的,成功的团队,人们也不会对此产生怀疑。这样谦虚的典型,就是Alfred Sloan在1963年出版的自传《我在通用汽车的岁月》。那时,通用汽车还是全球企业的样板,而Alfred Sloan则被认为是这个高效运作,各分公司独立核算的跨国企业的缔造者。

But focusing on how the best produce the best has its limits. Most managers, after all, do not stitch an industrial triumph from a vast bankrupt junk yard, as Sloan did. They do not delight their customer,crush competitors and create vast wealth.

They struggle. They stumble.

但是一流管理者如何带领一流企业的经验,未免有些局限性。大多数的管理层做不到能像Alfred Sloan那样,能将一个几乎要破产的垃圾公司一举振兴为行业翘楚。他们即无法让客户满意,也不能打垮对手,更别提创造巨大的财富了。

他们不过是在挣扎中跌跌撞撞地前进而已。

Where is the book for them? Who can help the under-performing,over-compensated chief executive fighting to survive intrusive journalists, independent shareholders and ambitiousvice-presidents who could do a better job? Where is the role model for the manager who really needs a role model most—the one who by any objective measure of performance cannot, and should not, manage at all?

那么,他们应该向谁学习?谁可以给这些尸位素餐的管理人员们指明前进的方向,让他们能够在无处不在的媒体、独立股东以及随时准备取代自己的副手之间继续苟延残喘?哪个榜样有办法能够让所有的业绩评判标准全部失效,管理业绩再差也一如既往地受到追捧?

An obvious candidate is Mao. Yes, he was head of a country, not acompany. But he self-consciously carried a business-like title,“chairman”, while running China from 1949 until dying in office in1976, having jailed, killed, or psychologically crushed a succession oflikely replacements and therefore created the classic business problem:a succession void. He thought of himself as, in his own words, an“indefatigable teacher” and the famous “Little Red Book” drawn from hisspeeches is packed with managerial advice on training, motivation andevaluation of lower-level employees (cadres); innovation (“let ahundred flowers bloom”); competition (“fear no sacrifice”); and, ofcourse, raising the game of the complacent manager (relentlessself-criticism).

毛 泽东显然是个很好的榜样。不错,他并非公司的领导,而是一个国家的领袖。但是他给自己定义的职位听起来却很有公司领导的感觉:主席。从1949年执政开 始,到他于1976年在主席的位置上逝世的这些年间,他连关带杀,以及从心理上摧毁了所有可能对他的位置产生挑战的竞争者。也正因此,产生了一个管理学上 典型的困境:后继无人。他自视为“诲人不倦的教师”(《毛泽东选集》第二卷第五一零页),在那本有名的红宝书中,收集了他历来的演讲,里面都是一些管理学 上的建议,比如如何进行新员工培训,如何激励员工,如果评价底层员工(基层群众),如何进行创新(“百花齐放”),如何竞争(“不怕牺牲”),当然,还有 如何让恃功骄纵的管理层清醒下来的方法(无情的自我批评)

Mao still has at least a symbolic hold over the Chinese economy, eventhough it began to blossom only after death removed his suffocatinghand. His portrait is emblazoned on China’s currency, on bags, shirts,pins, watches and whatever else can be sold by the innumerableentrepreneurial capitalists that he ground beneath his heel when inpower. No other recent leader of a viable country (outside North Korea,in other words) is so honoured—not even ones that did a good job.

虽 然直到他过世後,中国才挣脱他的铁腕控制,经济才开始腾飞,但即使在今天的中国经济中,毛泽东仍然无处不在。他的头像,被那些在他当权时被狠狠踩在脚下的 资本家和走资派们印在人民币上,印在书包,T恤,像章,手表等一切可以售卖的商品上。这样的殊荣,除了朝鲜之外的世界上,再没有哪一个近代领导人享受过 ——即使他们同样功勋卓著。

It was not a nurturing management style that won Mao this adulation.According to Jung Chang’s and Jon Halliday’s “Mao, the Unknown Story”,admittedly an unsympathetic portrait, he was responsible for “70mdeaths, more than any other 20th-century leader”. But why stop at the20th century? In Chinese history, only Emperor Qin Shi Huang, whostarted building the Great Wall (in which each brick is said to havecost a life), was competition for Mao; and since the population wasmuch smaller then, Mao is likely to have outdone him in absolutenumbers.

让 毛泽东获得这样的极端的个人崇拜的,不仅仅是因为他充满教导意味的管理模式。据张戎和JonHalliday的著作《毛泽东:鲜为人知的故事》描述的, “他应该为中国七千万在和平时期死去的生命负责,这个数字远远超过了二十世纪任何一个国家”。仅仅是二十世纪么?纵观中国历史,也仅有那以人民的血肉之躯 铸造长城的秦始皇能够与之“媲美”。但是考虑到人口基数的差异,在绝对死亡数字上,还是毛泽东小胜一把。

Botched economic policies caused most of the carnage. Deng Xiaoping,Mao’s successor, turned the policies, and eventually the economy,around. Yet he does not even merit an image on a coin.

即使是扭转了这食人的政策,彻底改造了中国经济的继任者邓小平先生,也不曾享受到哪怕是把头像印到硬币上的荣誉。

The disparity between Mao’s performance and his reputation isinstructive, for behind it are four key ingredients which all badmanagers could profitably employ.

以这样失败的政绩赢得这样无上的荣耀,这别样的成功背后的四个秘笈对于每个失败的领导者都具有极大的借鉴意义。

A powerful, mendacious slogan

雄壮有力而空洞的口号

Born a modestly well-off villager, Mao lived like an emperor, carried on litters by peasants, surrounded by concubines and placated byeveryone. Yet his most famous slogan was “Serve the People”. Thisparadox illustrates one aspect of his brilliance: his ability tojustify his actions, no matter how entirely self-serving, as being donefor others.

出生于富农家庭的毛泽东,坐在农民抬的轿子上,过着三宫六院,万民敬仰,帝王般的生活。而他最有名的口号却是“为人民服务”。这样的自相矛盾却折射出他的某方面的非比寻常:无论事实上他对其他人做了些什么,他总能使他的行为充满了正当性。

Psychologists call this “cognitive dissonance”—the ability to make acompelling, heartfelt case for one thing while doing another. Beingable to pull off this sort of trick is an essential skill in manyprofessions. It allows sub-standard chief executives to rationalisehuge pay packages while their underlings get peanuts (or rice).

心理学家称这种现象叫“认知失调”——说着让人信服的大道理,却做截然相反的勾当。事实上,对于很多所谓的专业人士来说,这是他们不可或缺的一项能力。这种能力能使不称职的管理层在属下喝西北风的时候也能堂而皇之地拿到高工资高奖金。

But Mao did not just get a stamp from a compliant board and eye-rollingfrom employees. He convinced his countrymen of his value. That waspartly because, even if his message bore no relation to his actions, itexpressed precisely and succinctly what he should have been doing.Consider the truth and clarity of “serve the people” compared with theaverage company’s mission statement, packed with a muddle of words andthoughts tied to stakeholders and CSR, that employees can barely read, let alone memorise.


但 是毛泽东并不是在人民的抱怨和不满中得到的这一切。他用他的大道理同化了他的人民。这一部分是因为,虽然他的教条跟他的行为间并没有什么关联,但这些教条 还是精炼地描述了应该做的、正确的事情。事实上“为人民服务”这句口号,实质上与一般公司的口号或者企业文化并无两样,企业的口号往往是用堆砌的文字来描 述企业与股东的关系,或者企业的社会责任。员工们虽然不一定能读懂,不过没有关系,记住就好。

Deng Xiaoping’s slogan, which he used in his campaign to revive theeconomy, had similar virtues. “Truth from facts” is a sound-bite thatSloan would have loved and every manager should cherish, but you won’tfind it chiselled on a Chinese wall. It doesn’t have the hypocriticalidealism of Mao’s version—nor was it pushed so hard.


邓 小平时期,“实践是检验真理的唯一标准”这句口号曾经用来推动中国经济的复苏,虽然它与毛泽东的口号也有类似的本质。但却或许更能为Sloan等管理人员 接受,而且你也不会看到这句口号刷满中国大街小巷的墙壁。这句话,既没有毛泽东提出的口号那样伪善而空洞,也不像毛泽东的口号那样强制人民接受。

Ruthless media manipulation

媒体造神

Mao knew not just how to make a point but also how to get it out.Through posters, the “Little Red Book” and re-education circles, hismessage was constantly reinforced. “Where the broom does not reach”, hesaid, “the dust will not vanish of itself.” This process ofself-aggrandisement is often dismissed as a “personality cult”, but ishard to distinguish from the modern business practice of building brandvalue.

毛 泽东不仅仅知道如何提出一个口号,他也知道如何把他们推销出去。通过普及印有标语的招贴画和红宝书,通过再教育和政治学习,他的意志在人们心中被反复强 化。他说“这也和扫地一样,扫帚不到,灰尘照例不会自己跑掉”(《抗日战争胜利后的时局和我们的方针》(一九四五年八月十三日),《毛泽东选集》第四卷第 一一三一页)。这种自我扩张的强化导致了个人崇拜,而这个过程其实和现代商业中打造商业品牌有异曲同工之妙。

Yet within China economic growth was pathetic and living conditionswere wretched. So why did a vast list of Western political, militaryand academic leaders accept the value of Mao’s brand at his ownestimation? Even Stalin, no guileless observer, believed in and, to hislater regret, protected Mao. The brand-building lesson is that a clear,utopian message, hammered home relentlessly, can obscure inconvenientfacts. Great salesmen are born knowing this. Executives whosestrategies are not delivering need to learn it.

那 为什么即使当时中国经济情况如此糟糕,人民生活苦不堪言,西方的政军领袖以及学术大家却仍然认同了毛泽东所自我塑造的形象?即使是象斯大林那样谈不上坦率 的旁观者,也坚信,并在晚年维护毛泽东,后悔当初没有重视他。这给我们上了一堂关于品牌塑造的课——当清晰,理想化的宣传一次次坚定地出现的时候,人们会 忘记那些不清晰的负面事实。伟大的推销员都深谙此道。而那些不能有效地将企业的战略传达给全公司的管理人员,则需要好好地补这一课。

Chief executives are not in a position to crush the media as Mao did.Nevertheless, his handling of them offers some lessons. He talked onlyto sycophantic journalists and his appeal in the West came mainly fromhagiographies written by reporters whose careers were built on theaccess they had to him.

首 席执行官们往往没有毛泽东那样操纵媒体的权力,但是他对媒体的操纵方式仍然可以为我们借鉴。他只接受对他阿谀奉承的媒体的访问,所以西方世界对他的印象, 也仅仅是来自那些将他神圣化的报告文学,可这些报告文学的作者,正是通过对毛泽东的接近和报道,才开始他们新闻记者的职业生涯。

The law constrains the modern chief executive’s ability to imitate Mao’sPRstrategy. Publicly listed companies have to publish information, ratherthan hand it out selectively. But many, within bounds, emulate Mao’smedia management; others, determined to control information about them,are delisting. Burrow beneath laudatory headlines on business andpolitical leaders, and it becomes clear that the strategy works.

现 代法律使当今的首席执行官们无法照搬毛泽东的公共关系学。上市公司需要按照规范进行信息公开,而不能选择性地公开部分信息。一部分公司在他们操作范围之 内,采用毛泽东式的媒体管理策略,而另一部分,则因为试图操控相关的市场信息而被市场除名。现如今的策略是,在对商业和政治领袖进行报道的时候,将真相隐 藏在美化过的标题之下。这一招目前看来的确行之有效。

Corbis …but Mao’s HR policies meant Happy Revolutionaries(但毛泽东的公共关系策略让人们愉快地参与革命)

Sacrifice of friends and colleagues

牺牲朋友与战友

“Who are our friends? Who are our enemies? This is a question of first importance,” Mao wrote. Sloan agreed. He worried that favouritism would come at the expense of the single most valuable component of management: the objective evaluation of performance.

毛泽东说:“谁是我们的敌人,谁是我们的朋友,这是革命的首要问题”,Sloan也持有类似观点。Sloan担心的是徇私舞弊的代价是管理中最重要的部分——绩效考核的客观性受到损害。

Mao had a different goal: he did not want people too close to him,and therefore to power; so being Mao’s friend often proved more dangerous than being his enemy. One purge followed another. Promotions and demotions were zealously monitored. Bundles of incentives weregiven and withdrawn. Some demotions turned out well. Deng Xiaoping’s exile in a tractor factory may have helped him understand business, and thus rebuild the economy, but that was an unintended benefit.


毛 泽东担心的却不是这个,他要通过保持跟群众的距离来保证自己的权威。因此,对于毛泽东的亲密战友来说,伴君如伴虎,做毛泽东的朋友比做他的敌人处境更加危 险。在一轮又一轮的政治清洗和整风中,毛泽东一手掌握着所有人的仕途——而他的态度反复无常。虽然一些政治流放最终看来是有益的,比如邓小平被排挤到拖拉 机厂之后,才对商业规律有了更深刻的了解,这使得他当权后能够带领中国进行经济重建,但这样的意外收获绝对不是毛泽东的本意。

This approach makes sense. Close colleagues may want your job, and relationships with them may distract you. Mao’s abandonment of friend sand even wives and children seemed to be based on a calculation ofwhich investments were worth maintaining and which should be regarded as sunk costs. Past favours were not returned. According to Ms Changa nd Mr Halliday, a doctor who saved his life was left to die on aprison floor after being falsely accused of disloyalty. Mao let ithappen: he had other doctors by then.


但这种驭人 术的确有道理。亲密的朋友可能对你的位置虎视眈眈,而与他们的私人关系也会影响到你的判断。毛泽东对朋友,对他的历任妻子,甚至子女的所作所为,似乎仅仅 是出于他个人利益的考量—-哪些值得投入,哪些则应该毫不留情地抛弃。恩情这东西在他心里向来是过期作废。根据张戎和她丈夫Halliday先生的书 中所著,一个曾经救过毛泽东性命的医生,仅仅因为被诬蔑立场错误就冤死狱中。毛泽东任由这样的事情发生,因为彼时彼日,他已经有了新的私人医生。

Enemies, conversely, can be useful. Mao often blamed battlefield losses on rivals who were made to suffer for these defeats. The names of modern victims of this tactic will be visible on the list of peoples acked at an investment bank after a rough quarter; the practitioners are their superiors, or those who have taken their jobs.

相反的,敌人也可以拿来利用。毛泽东常常在战败之后把责任都推卸到敌军身上。这样的行为如今改头换面出现在各大投行里,每当业绩惨淡,长长的裁员名单上的那些名字都是为真正该负起责来的主管们或者取代他们那些人做了代罪羔羊。

Activity substituting for achievement

没有进步,还有运动

Mao was quite willing to avoid tedious or uncomfortable meetings,particularly when he was likely to be criticised. But maybe that helped him avoid getting bogged down. From the Anti-Rightist Movement of the late 1950s to the Great Leap Forward, a failed agricultural and industrial experiment in the early 1960s, to the Cultural Revolution inthe late 1960s, Mao was never short of a plan.

每当局势对他不利的时候,毛泽东总会避开那些对他不利甚至进行批判的大会。或者这也就是他能够稳操胜券到最后的原因吧。二十世纪五十年代末,有反右运动和大跃进,六十年代初有失败的工业农业改革实验,六十年代末有文化大革命。毛泽东的招术,层出不穷。

Under Mao, China didn’t drift, it careened. The propellant came fromthe top. Policies were poor, execution dreadful and leadership misdirected, but each initiative seemed to create a centripetal force,as everyone looked toward Beijing to see how to march forward (or avoid being trampled). The business equivalent of this is restructuring, the broader the better. Perhaps for the struggling executive, this is the single most important lesson: if you can’t do anything right, do a lot.The more you have going on, the longer it will take for its disastrous consequences to become clear. And think very big: for all his flaws,Mao was inspiring.

在毛泽东的领导下,中国不是发展偏离了 轨道,而根本是大厦将倾。问题的根源在于领导层的无能。政策本身有问题,加上执行不力,再配上瞎指挥,但是这一系列的问题却产生了一种向心力——全国人民 团结在党中央周围,拥护中央前进的方向(也可能人们仅仅是为了明哲保身)。在企业管理中也有类似的做法:重组,而且重组涉及面越广越好。或许对于在困境中 挣扎的首席执行官们来说,这是最最重要的经验:如果没能力做好事,那就做浑事,浑事做的越多,局面越混乱,能够浑水摸鱼继续尸位素餐的时间也就越长。与此 同时一定要保持豪情万丈的样子:毛泽东犯所有那些错误都是豪情万丈的。

In the long run, of course, the facts will find you out. But who cares? We all know what we are in the long run.

当然,当水落石出,尘埃落定的时候,时间终将还历史以真相。可谁在乎真相?谁还真不知道自己那点儿斤两?

经济学人双语:http://www.shiguisheng.cn/index.php/economist/