ney. One employee poignantly
described the event: “It was a day in
which everyone experienced a collec-
tive vision. It was no longer different
groups with different agendas but
rather a powerful, integrating vision.
That same year CRY went on to
affect the lives of nearly five hundred
thousand children through advocacy
and initiatives in more than five thou-
sand villages throughout India.
GOING GLOBAL
William Amelio was brought in to
lead Lenovo after its high-profile
acquisition of IBM’s global personal
computer operation in 2005. Beyond
the merging and streamlining of
Lenovo’s and IBM’s systems and
procedures, Amelio, an American
with several years’ experience head-
ing up Dell’s Asia-Pacific business
from Singapore, had the complex
challenge of leading at the crossroads
of two distinct organizational cultures
and also two national cultures. “It’s
hard enough just putting two compa-
nies together, Amelio told U.S. News
& World Report in 2007. “Imagine
doing that with different ideologies,
backgrounds, and histories.
After the merger, Amelio and his
team moved quickly to implement
Lenovo-only branding of the com-
pany’s products, and the company
celebrated the change at a party
where employees ripped IBM logo
stickers off computers in unison.
Employees were also encouraged not
to hang onto old legacies; a “trash bin
project” gave former IBM staff mem-
bers the opportunity to submit exam-
ples of things they did while with
IBM but did not want to continue
doing.
More than just products and
processes were unified under a single
brand. Ken DiPietro, head of human
resources at Lenovo, told U.S News:
“We were labeling people as legacy
IBM, legacy Lenovo, or new hires. At
one point, [Amelio] and I got really
frustrated with everybody talking
about three streams. We said we need
to stop doing that.
From that point on, Lenovo was
positioned as a global company rather
than a Chinese or a U.S. or a Sino-
American company. One move was
to internationalize the management
team. Nowadays even the manage-
ment meetings have taken on a global
character. Amelio works out of
Singapore; Lenovo chairman Yang
Yuanqing lives in Raleigh, North
Carolina; and meetings among top
executives are held in different loca-
tions each month.
The Lenovo management team
worked to reduce potential East-West
cultural tensions among employees.
A “cultural audit” of Lenovo employ-
ees was conducted. Chinese employ-
ees were encouraged to speak out
more, and Western employees were
taught to be less confrontational and
to speak more slowly and listen
more. The company also worked with
its Chinese employees on improving
their English skills to facilitate com-
munication. Informal company table
tennis sessions helped employees
bond over common interests.
Although it is still early in the
merger to make a full assessment,
healthy numbers posted for the most
recent fiscal year—for instance, a 17
percent increase in sales over the pre-
vious year—are encouraging. Lenovo
also retained almost all of the former
IBM staff, which again suggests
Lenovo’s success in spanning two
distinct organizational and societal
cultures.
WORKING TOGETHER
In the late 1980s, Mechai Viravaidya,
a longtime activist for population
control and family planning, antici-
pated that AIDS would become a cri-
sis in Thailand but was aware that
broaching the subject was not going
to be easy. Yet amid the sensitivities
of a conservative society and resist-
ance from some business and govern-
ment groups, Viravaidya managed to
bring his fellow Thais on board to
fight the spread of AIDS. The
Viravaidya-led AIDS awareness and
prevention campaign in the 1990s has
been deemed one of the world’s most
successful.
Viravaidya realized early on that
effectively curbing the spread of
AIDS in Thailand would require
many different groups with diverse
interests working together. It looked
like an uphill battle. Former Thai
prime minister Anand Panyarachun
recalled in 2004 that the tourism
industry was concerned that visitors
would be scared off by this highly
publicized education campaign on
AIDS.
Viravaidya reached out to groups
outside the government, especially
those with wide influence in Thai
society. As he had learned from his
days as a family-planning activist, it
was important to get religion on his
side and win over conservatives. He
gained the support of Buddhist
monks, an important moral authority
LIA VOLUME 28, NUMBER 4 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008
15
Amid the sensitivities of
a conservative society
and resistance from
some business and gov-
ernment groups, Mechai
Viravaidya managed to
bring his fellow Thais on
board to fight the spread
of AIDS.

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