Korea Facing: The Seemingly Impossible

By Don Southerton, Editor 

Companies like Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, SK, and LG have a reputation for setting huge goals that look to many outside the organizations unrealistic. Most often it’s stretch goals for sales, which I’ve witnessed not only throughout the Hyundai Motor Group, but with other major Groups, from smart phone sales, to food services, to the Korean retail golf market.

What I have found interesting and quite different from the West is that when stretch goals are announced Korean teams and management never openly voice that the task is impossible, even if leadership and most of team don’t have a plan…

Why? It’s thought that although you may not have a plan or solution…someone, perhaps the most junior employee may either know of a way, or someone has a friend in their personal network who has a solution. It’s felt that it is never productive to share even with close co-workers that task is impossible, since they may be the one with an idea. Outwardly they are forward leaning and positive.

On another level, when senior leadership set huge goals some in the ranks might doubt, but many more grew up witnessing the amazing and near impossible achievements of the Group. They reason that if the company did the impossible before, why not again… In other words, success breeds success.

BTW, I was a once in a conversation with a senior Korean manager. I brought up the subject of what it took to be be terminated or fired. Pondering for a moment, the Korean manager instead explained that it was hard to get fired even if you made a big mistake if you were seen as positive and upbeat.

Suggestion

Always be seen as positive and forward leaning…even when facing the near impossible.

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