在最近发布的《联想之道》（The Lenovo Way）一书中，康耶丝和乔健分享了自身的经历，同时也介绍了联想发展成为一家真正的全球性企业前所走过的道路。该书概括了这一技术巨头最初在面临企业文化冲撞时所遭遇的困境，并记录了联想如何成功跻身成为全球最大的国际计算机销售巨擘。对于康耶丝和乔健来说，在一次又一次新的并购中找出凝聚不同员工的方法，与整合供应链和分销网络同样重要。她们在采访中表示，如果没有相应的人力资源方面的具体计划配合，并购的努力往往会付诸东流。
Within three months of being hired as chief diversity officer at Lenovo in 2007, Yolanda Conyers received some feedback that she was being disrespectful to her Chinese coworkers. Conyers, a perfectly polite woman from Port Arthur, Tex., was taken aback by the critique because she thought she had worked tirelessly to be polite to her new team.
It turns out that Conyers efforts were getting lost in translation. She thought she was being very deferential when she sent emails to her senior colleagues to “request” a meeting. But the word request translates in Mandarin to a term that executives use when asking for a meeting with someone below them. Without knowing it, Conyers was telling her new managers that she thought she was above them.
“It sounds small, but those small things can generate a lot of mistrust,” Conyers said in an interview with Fortune. “We had to go through a lot of effort to understand the different cultures within the company and the reasons people behave the way they do.”
Since 2005 when Lenovo bought IBM’s PC business, the Chinese company has gone on a spree of high-profile acquisitions. Most recently, the world’s largest personal-computer maker said on Thursday that it had completed a $2.91 billion acquisition of Google’s Motorola Mobility unit. The merger makes Lenovo the third-largest smartphone maker. Each time Lenovo buys an overseas company, its staff gets more diverse and its corporate structure more complicated. Today, the company has more than 60,000 employees across 60 countries.
That’s where Conyers comes in. After a slew of culture problems and missed business opportunities shortly after Lenovo acquired part of IBM, the company realized it needed to take a harder look at its strategy for combining new teams. Now serving as Lenovo’s first-ever diversity officer, Conyers’s job is to figure out how to align the company behind common goals while respecting everyone’s differences.
But before Conyers could worry about bringing the company together, she needed to understand Chinese culture for herself. She decided to live and work out of Lenovo’s headquarters in China from 2009 to 2012 and she turned to Gina Qiao, Lenovo’s SVP of Human Resources, to guide her through the transition. Qiao, who works out of Beijing, made a similar decision in 2005 when she lived and worked out of Lenovo’s Raleigh, North Carolina offices. Qiao also struggled to understand American workplace culture. She didn’t realize that when she didn’t speak up constantly in meetings, her American coworkers assumed she hadn’t prepared.
The two women relied on each other to understand the nuances of corporate behavior across the organization and encouraged their co-workers to do the same.
“You need to take the time to listen more and take time to get to know people’s struggles and their relationships,” said Conyers. “I needed to take the time to go live in that environment and now I am such a better global leader as a result.”
Conyers and Qiao outline both their personal journeys along side Lenovo’s path to becoming a truly global company in the recently released book The Lenovo Way. The book outlines the tech giant’s initial struggles with corporate culture clashes and traces how Lenovo successfully became the largest company in the world in global computer sales. For Conyers and Qiao, figuring out how to bring people together with each new acquisition is just as essential as mixing supply chains and distributions networks. Without a concrete plan of the human side of things, mergers and acquisitions too often fail, they told Fortune.