The Sinking Ship Feeling: The Alertness Etched in the Genes of the Chinese

Editor’s note:

Today is a time of turmoil and change. Some companies will face crises or even difficulties, while many others are in a favorable state. But it is necessary to remain vigilant against “sinking ships.” Excellent companies always have a sense of crisis. None of the top 10 companies by global market value in 1990 appeared in the top 10 in 2020. Only Microsoft was still in the top 10 among the top 10 companies by market value in 2000. Only Microsoft and Apple were still in the top 10 in 2020 among the top 10 companies by market value in 2010. Bill Gates said “Microsoft is always only 18 months away from bankruptcy.” A sense of crisis may be one of the reasons why Microsoft remains on this list. Obviously, when your company is not in crisis, your competitors are in crisis. According to this article, they will definitely go all out. So no matter what state your company is in, never be a silent person in the company!

Double Eleven chose to lie flat and Double Twelve quietly passed by again. In some companies you can feel an atmosphere of impending “sinking.”

I am very sensitive to this atmosphere. I have been in a company that was about to “sink,” so I am very familiar with this atmosphere.

In a company that is about to “sink,” everyone actually knows the outcome. But everyone will tacitly avoid discussing this topic as if as long as it is not mentioned the problem will not exist. And those who had previously sounded the alarm either have left or will never speak again. The top management are busy putting out fires and have neither the heart nor the willingness to discuss this topic. Everyone in the company is actually waiting for that day to come but there is silence up and down.

“If you don’t explode in silence you will perish in silence.” Lu Xun is truly the writer who understands the essence of Chinese people best.

I suddenly understand why I am very uncomfortable with this atmosphere. This discomfort is an alertness etched into the genes of Chinese people.

Someone on the internet said: Chinese people are truly a “fighting nation.” Every inch of our 9.6 million square kilometers of territory was won by our ancestors with blood. I totally agree with this statement.

Over five thousand years facing one “sinking ship” crisis after another if it weren’t for our nation choosing to explode every time we would have long disappeared into the river of history.

We are a nation that will not choose to perish in the face of silence but will eventually explode.

For a company facing a “sinking ship,” whether the CEO has leadership is key. No matter what difficulties they face, business leaders must immediately do three things:
Reshape the mission

Vision is what we see and hope to achieve in the future. Mission is how to achieve this vision. For a “sinking ship” company, vision and mission have long been empty words that no one believes in. But this is precisely the root cause of the company’s “sinking.” Therefore, it is extremely important to reorganize the company’s vision and establish an exciting, clear and specific future vision for the team. What is particularly important is to reshape the mission. Mission is not a specific plan. It is not a strategy. Mission is an “arrow” pointing from now to the future. This means that it allows for all kinds of innovative possibilities.

When Dave Calhoun was appointed CEO of Dutch VNU Group in 2006, he faced a company whose operations had deteriorated. The company’s products and brands were very messy. Dave recalls: “When I got there, the company’s mission was ‘We are the leader in market information.’ It sounded good, but it actually meant that you just had to do well in your own little corner and couldn’t get employees to have a big picture.”

Dave and his team immediately set out to change this situation. They changed the group’s name to “Nielsen” and made it clear that Nielsen Group’s mission was to study what consumers like to watch and buy. Nielsen Group will gain insight into global consumers’ aesthetic perspectives and shopping habits and achieve world-class standards.

This is an exciting mission with ambitious goals that are inspiring yet realistic. A good mission will let every employee know what they should do and allow everyone to work together towards achieving a common mission. In this way Nielsen Group turned around from near death and made a stunning turnaround. During Dave’s six years as CEO the company’s market value doubled three times what it was when he took office. Today Dave has become an expert in saving “sinking ship” companies. Do you know which company recently hired Dave? It’s Boeing.

Fresh blood

For a company facing a “sinking ship” situation trying to maintain old business and fantasizing that the world will return to its past “good times” is undoubtedly unrealistic Only by letting go and pushing for business and organizational change creating new sources of profit can the company’s fate be saved At this time the original team within the company whether in terms of skills mentality or culture are often not suitable for engaging in such transformation projects At this time relying on new vision to recruit new teams from outside creating a “catfish effect” can only be successful in innovation projects.

When Steve Jobs visited Xerox Labs he realized that graphical interfaces were the future of the PC industry At that time he immediately launched development of a graphical interface operating system but Apple’s internal development team at that time could not meet Jobs’ requirements So Jobs decided to recruit a new development team entirely from outside He required new people to have both engineer’s technology and artist’s temperament Jobs told them “I don’t want you guys to be navy I want you guys to be pirates.” In the end this “pirate” team developed the world’s first graphical interface operating system: Macintosh.

Start over

If internal and external problems have accumulated over time simple “catfish effect” reforms often do not work “Starting over” is the last resort but often allows companies to turn around from near death.

Duan Yongping once made Little Overlord game consoles popular But when real PCs became popular in China even “Overlord” could only cut his sword at Wujiang But when one “Overlord” fell more “Overlords” stood up one by one Duan Yongping dared to zero out creating one after another “mythical legend” of starting over in VCD telephone mobile phone and other fields.


Today the world is undergoing a turning point We cannot stop the world from turning but we can adapt to changes in the world.

Charles Darwin founder of evolution theory said: “Those who survive are neither the strongest nor the smartest but those who are most adaptable to change.”

If a company encounters difficulties our strategy should not be to try as much as possible to succeed and avoid making mistakes On the contrary we should try as many mistakes as possible and strive for one success.

Because you only need to find one successful method then all you need to do is repeat this method.

Victory will heal all wounds.

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