Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Everything Korea: February 1 Episode, the Lunar New Year

The Year of the Red Monkey: energy, liveliness and success.

Korea (as well as China, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and many Asian countries) celebrate two New Years’-- one on Jan. 1 and the Lunar New Year celebration, which this year falls on February 7th to 10th.   

Each lunar new year has an associated animal, as well as a related element like fire (red), water (black), earth (yellow), metal (white) and wood (blue), all which rotate over a 60 year cycle.  Hence, Red (Fire) Monkey, Black (Water) Snake, White (Metal) Dragon, etc.   

It’s a great time to re-connect with Korean teams and friends.
For your Korean colleagues (in Korea), you can wish them “Happy Lunar New Year” by phone, text, or email, late afternoon on Thursday February 4th (so, Friday AM in Korea, which is their last day in office prior to Holiday).

For expat Koreans working outside Korea/ globally, or in your local operations,  you can wish then Happy Lunar New Year on Sunday February 7, or Monday February 8.

Here is the formal greeting--Sae hae bok mani ba deu say yo
Give it a try.   You will find it will be greatly appreciated.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Everything Korea, Episode January 25, the Second Strategy

This week I’ll be sharing the second of 

my time-proven approaches to Korea facing business. 

This strategy is taking a Pilot or Trial Approach…. Recognizing the strong Korean cultural risk avoidance tendencies, I recommend offering a limited trial program as an option to mitigate fears and concerns—with costs scaled down proportionately from a bolder rollout.  Depending on the project, this often can be demonstrated in a test market or dialed back to limit in scope. 

In all cases, the pilot program needs to be flexible to expand in stages with associated incremental costs.

There is one caveat to this approach I often see taken in Korea.  Once they test market a project and then decide to move forward, they execute a full rollout incredibly fast.  My advice is to plan accordingly in advance with an action plan that includes a rapid roll out…. the faster the better. 

This said, and as many of you have probably surmised, Strategy 1 and 2 do work well in tandem. This begs the question, “So what would I add to ensure success?” 

In particular, as a next step I would present the two strategies in a special format for Korean leadership.  In fact, I’ll cover this in my next commentary.  

In closing, if you have questions on implementing the strategies I have outlined, Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can schedule us for a time.

Oh, one more thing, the Lunar New Year.  As you may know Korea (as well as China and Vietnam) celebrate two New Years’--  one on Jan. 1 and the Lunar New Year celebration, which this year falls on February 7th to 10th.  Following Korean zodiac tradition this is the Year of the Red Monkey.  A year of energy, liveliness and success.  More on the Lunar New Years and appropriate greeting in the next post, too. 

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Everything Korea: January 18 Episode, Strategy #1

Last week I promised to share my strategies for tackling Korean facing business.

Strategy #1

First, instead of the common western approach founded in considerable upfront research, discussion and review in which a sole, singular course of action is recommended—it's best to instead prepare three options with their related costs.

This approach allows Korean senior management to consider alternatives, a common decision-making methodology in Korea.

Some background on “Why 3 options?”  Stepping back to the mid-2000s and a joint American and Korean management workshop that I facilitated for a client, one of Korean team managers pointed out that in Korea it was norm to present multiple options.  He explained that to support their leadership’s decision-making at least 3 options would be prepared for his seniors… and as many as 5 if the proposal was going to be elevated for review by their Chairman.

In most cases, following this initial presentation, leadership would ask for additional details requiring the team to drill deeper prior to a decision. All said, this process resulted in an approved course of action.

I also recall how not following this model can have consequence. I was called upon by a frequent Agency of the Year winner to assist in dealing with their Korean client and a relationship troubling the agency’s dedicated account team.  Probing, I found the agency had presented what they felt was the best plan for their client—a well thought out global branding campaign for which the agency was confident in their decision.

The Korean client feedback was less than expected and came as a shock to the agency team. In my asking, and of little surprise to me, the Korean client was disappointed and had high hopes for a range of ideas from the agency.  They had expected to be dazzled with creativity and not just a single idea. In my opinion, this was driven by the advertising agency’s world-class and award-winning creative reputation.

In following up with the Korean client, I recommended the agency also present the preliminary concept work which they had developed internally prior to picking what they felt was the best. This would allow the client to have a voice in the decision.  Sadly, the agency was rigid in their thinking, feeling they had submitted their top work and that was sufficient. Not surprisingly, they parted ways some time later.

Again, presenting options is key.  Next week, I’ll share a second Strategy, so in the meantime if you have specific questions on how best to format and present presenting options, I’d be happy to discuss.

Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can schedule us for a time.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Everything Korea: January 11 Episode, a 2016 Re-boot, The Process

I consider my mission to be akin to the aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats.” I
work to build bridges among the members of Korean, American and global teams. I
feel the issues and impasses that surface are less about “them and us”.  Frankly,
it's more about working through the issue and collaboration, and rather timely with
the challenges of the new year ahead,

So, for starters….

I share Korea-facing business situations, issues and challenges using a methodology to first uncover and state the problem and then present solutions and workarounds.

That said, at times readers of my BCW Vodcasts, media commentaries and publications question, “Don, you highlight the problem and indicate that there are solutions, but why not provide details on these workarounds?”

I admit that offering detailed workarounds to the public would be beneficial.

However, as a consultancy I do provide these services to clients after fully understanding the circumstances.  On a side note… I was once reminded by a top client CEO that I was so forthcoming that in his opinion I was “giving away the razor blades, but only charging for the handle”—not a very smart business model.

Still, I’d like to share with you my two-step process, which I hope will be insightful.

These two strategies are time proven and align well cross-culturally. In fact, in the next episode I will provide a detailed approach to both strategies.

In the meantime, if urgent I would be happy to provide you with details on the process.

To facilitate and with my rather demanding workload and travel, Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can schedule us for a time.

Finally, I look forward to supporting you and your team in 2016.

Oh, one more thing for 2016.….

I have re-booted and enhanced greatly my weekly commentary. Here’s the link if you are not already receiving.  Look for exclusive insights and opinions.


Monday, January 04, 2016

Everything Korea, Best of 2015—an encore Episode, Embrace and Immerse From May 18

In this week’s Everything Korea my thoughts again turn to discussing why some Korean businesses do well outside Korea, while others struggle.

A caveat is tied to last week’s episode where although Korea entrepreneurs have and continue to launch some amazing new startup concepts—few ever gain the stellar funding and success achieved by similar startups the US in the past or now with concepts like Periscope, Meerkat or my favorite Super.me.

Frankly, what works well in Korea may not work well outside Korea and with regard to the Startup Model even work within Korea. Same thing goes for global brands, what works well in each respective country or region needs some if not substantial localization—localizations a catch phrase that everyone agrees to but few truly embrace.

In particular, I see with Korea brands looking outside Korea to often the same missteps re-occurring. In my recent case study “A Global Approach: For Korea Management Teams” I address many of the challenges.  See the link below for a copy of the study. http://unbouncepages.com/case-study-fb/
So what are some steps in my opinion for 1) Korean brands already having a global footprint, or 2) brands that wish to expand outside Korea, or 3) domestic Korea startups, all need to take?

I’ll talk more on this in the next episode, but for a first step--embrace and immerse in the local culture, market norms and success model.

What is a poor idea is for an overseas team modeling practices after the Korea operations.  This I know can be difficult--most Korean teams dispatched are most familiar with the Korean model, receive limited support to transition, or are subjected to pressure from their peers and seniors to limit the embracing of local norms over the mother company’s.  The later situation a real concern.

Again in the next episode we’ll drill deeper to the core causes of the disconnects.

Oh one more thing…

Those struggling with some of the challenges I’ve mentioned, or have issues within your organization that need to be addressed….I have blocked out my availability to chat and discuss….

To facilitate and with my rather demanding workload and travel, Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can schedule us for a time.

Until next time, all the best.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Everything Korea, Best of 2015—an encore, Ten Insights From September 14

In this episode I’d like to share  “Ten Insights into Korean business.”  This is something I often incorporate into one on one coaching and mentoring sessions.  It was also developed in collaboration with a senior Korea manager specifically to explain to his team’s Westerners on the company—the Westerners lacking first hand knowledge in the mother company and seeing the Company only in their local operations. In particular, there was a gap between how things were executed in Korea and had evolved locally-- to a model less efficient and with time-consuming procedures.

To begin,  

Trust There is a very strong trust within teams and in the company. This is often because of a legacy in achieving many bold accomplishments—often seemingly impossible tasks.

Family Traditional family norms permeate the work culture (Elder brother as boss, senior managers, etc.) and the related concept that co-workers are seen as family.

Challenge A one-word summary of the Korean workplace would be Challenge--both in what it has overcome and in what it expects of its global employees.

Input Companies are very hierarchical, but actively demands input from all levels. In fact, top management make decisions based on the expectation that the lower levels have considered all possible outcomes and challenges.

Teamwork Once a decision is made all dissenting or differing opinions unite to embrace success.

Solution In Korea, employees do not bad mouth or put down their company. In fact, employees feel that such an attitude is “part of the problem” and not “part of the solution.” Even among friends, negative thoughts are not shared.

Relationships From higher ranks to the lower ranks, they are very hierarchical. But, here are also very protective organizations. On one level, norms dictate that Seniors are demanding of their Junior employees. One reason is to make sure Juniors learn the work expectations, practices, and culture.

On another level, workers must ensure that mistakes are not made that could reflect badly on their Seniors the department, or the company. Once a Junior works for a Senior that Jr. is part of a network of other employees under the umbrella or protection of the Senior.

Expectations There are very high expectations that must be met.  Doing a great job is what you are paid to do….

Collaboration The American workplace process is often to receive an assignment, clarify details, go off, work hard, and come back to the manager with the result.

The Korean staff will take a different approach. They will receive an assignment, work and discuss it collectively with others, and go back to the manager on multiple occasions informally to make sure they are following the path the manager wants. This method takes times, but Korean workers know when the manager sees the result, it will be what the senior requested.

Adaptability Flexibility and acceptance of change. Projects are subject to lots of change—some speed up, while others stall.

Questions, Comments?  Want to chat?

To facilitate and with my rather demanding workload and travel, Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can schedule us for a time.

All the best…

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Everything Korea, Best of 2015—an encore Episode, On-boarding From June 15

I truly enjoy sharing the nuances of Korean business culture—whether through my books, Vodcasts like this one, in media interview and articles, or coaching those new to the Korea facing workplace.

Long part of my core business has been On-boarding.  In fact, this week I have a number of engagements scheduled in Southern California with some planned for San Francisco in the next future.

On-boarding or, organizational socialization is where new employees, from C-level staff to entry-level hires, acquire necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to be effective in their job.  In most cases for my work this means those employed by Korean companies, but it also includes those partners that provide services to Korean global firms  

A common false assumption taken by some is those new to the company or project “will get” the cultural nuances without considerable support.  Nothing can be more mistaken.  

I find the Struggles for non-Koreans can range from team members not dealing with matters feeling it may offend their Korea colleagues to being perplexed and frustrated why approval processes are so complex or why Finance appears to be the making final call in critical operational decisions. The later two situations covered extensively in my books Korea Facing and Korea Perspective.  See link below.

All said, my role in On-boarding is to provide context and the reasons behind Korea facing business, while over time mentoring, coaching and steering teams and C-level leadership to solutions.

If coaching and mentoring is like something you and your company can benefit from, I have blocked out some times I’m available to discuss more.

To facilitate and with my rather demanding workload and travel, Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can schedule us for a time.

Until next time…

Link to Don’s books