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 can schedule us for a time.

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