Johnny Wu is a Senior Director in the SCM Development team at adidas in China and here he tells us about how he prepares his team for China’s – and the world’s – biggest online shopping event.
The clock is counting down and my palms are beginning to sweat. It’s been months leading up to this very moment. I know that my team has put in the hard work – all the meetings, training sessions, practice drills and simulations – and now it’s finally here. To say that I have a case of pre-match jitters is an understatement. One last glance at the clock and…
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. It’s go time!
If you’re reading the above and thinking that I am looking back to the start of a basketball game or a football match, I’m not. I am actually looking back on the eve of last year’s Double 11 event.
For those who may not be familiar, Double 11 is one of China’s biggest online retail festivals. Every year on – you guessed it – November 11, millions of people in China log into Alibaba and shop. All the major brands, China’s top key opinion leaders, and celebrities from all around the world get involved. To put it in sporting terms for you – it’s the Super Bowl of online shopping.
Here at adidas in China, we start preparing for the event eight months in advance. Teams from all across the business come together to work on the 24-hour shopping event. As a Senior Director in logistics, it’s the pinnacle of my work year.
In the weeks leading up to Double 11, my small team of four rapidly and temporarily expands. This year, we’ll be overseeing more than 3,000 people in the warehouse on the night of the event. When the clock strikes midnight we’ll be prepared to process more than 280,000 orders, which is 70 times the amount that we take on a regular trading day.
So how do I prepare my team to handle this? I like to think that prepping them for Double 11 is like prepping a team for a major sporting event. Over the years, I’ve taken inspiration from some of the greatest coaches of all time and incorporated their leadership tactics into my own work life. Here I share three of them.
1. One team = one goal
During Double 11, our team will absorb the help from many different vendors and work alongside a lot of new faces in the lead-up to the shopping event. As a leader, it’s my mission to make sure that we are all working as one. In order to do this, I like to meet with everyone – or at least as many people as I can – and shake their hand. When I meet with people one-on-one I like to welcome them to the team. By doing this I send the message across that we are not Party A and Party B – rather we are one team working towards one goal.
2. Their problems are my problems
Any coach will tell you that the team’s problems are also the coach’s problems, too. Whether it’s on or off the pitch, a good leader needs to know when to step in and help. Over the course of my professional life, I’ve found that people are often reluctant to put their hand up when they are facing a problem. To avoid this, communication is key. To encourage my team to open up, I always start the day with a group huddle. I use the huddle as a forum for people to voice any concerns or raise any questions that they might be hanging onto. This simple, but effective, communication method helps me to know when to lend support or solve any problems within the group.
3. Give them the freedom to take bold actions
Have you ever seen a coach run out onto the field mid-game to help their team? The idea is absurd, but as we all know, a good coach needs to train members of the team to be leaders during the game. On the day of Double 11 I can’t be everywhere at once, so it is my job to shape the team in advance and give them the confidence to lead and take actions on their own. This is inherently a part of my working style. With any new team member I like to start by setting up trust, slowing delegating, and then eventually authorizing them with power. This helps to build confidence in each individual. During the madness on the day, the team won’t have to think twice about reacting and solving any unforeseen issues.
Having a shared goal, keeping the lines of communication open and building them up to lead is my game plan for success. With this year’s event just days away, I admit that my palms are already starting to sweat. But I know that my team is more prepared than ever and that’s all that matters at this point. Wish us luck.