Huawei looks to staff for strategy to reverse declining fortunes

US-led national security bans have left Chinese networking giant seeking inspiration

Once mighty Chinese comms system maker Huawei has decided the strategy required to surmount a long list of challenges "should not be decided by a handful of people" at the top of the company.

Founder Ren Zhengfei feels he has to look beyond the established leadership for solutions to its predicament. According to a memo seen by the South China Morning Post, Zhengfei told colleagues to devise ideas about the company's future direction after it was hit hard by US sanctions and saw a nosedive in sales.

"Huawei's strategy should not be decided by a handful of people… it should come from tens of thousands of experts who study our future direction and the path to get there," Ren said, urging Huawei's 6,000 experts and hundreds of thousands of engineers to join the discussions, "alongside external scientists and consultants," he said.

Scientists and engineers would be encouraged to take part in cross-disciplinary discussions and "speak freely" to figure out where the company should go.

"The transformation from ideas to projects and products will depend on the review by decision makers, and I hope everything the company does is within boundaries and creates short or long term value," Ren said.

"Your innovation should have business value, rather than just being an idea," Zhengfei said.

The Register has contacted Huawei for further comment.

The US has retained its opposition to using the Chinese manufacturer's equipment in essential infrastructure. Although the policy began under controversial Republican president Donald Trump, it has survived the transition to Democrat Joe Biden, who signed The Secure Equipment Act in February. In 2020, Trump extended his executive order banning US companies from using or buying telecoms equipment from Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE.

Huawei's revenue has collapsed by nearly a third since 2020, although profits have been buoyed by the sale of its Honor budget smartphone business.

Faced with such challenges the manufacturing giant has come up with at least one idea: personal computers. In April, Huawei CEO Yu Chengdong announced the company will create a business PC unit and is "fully entering the commercial field."

It also distributed a whopping $9.65 billion dividend to current and retired staff under its Employee Shareholders Scheme (ESS) earlier this year.

Huawei also has a chunky share of cloud infrastructure makret in China where it accounted for 18 percent of the $27.4 billion spent by local businesses in 2021. ®

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