Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Everything Korea, February 15, Episode, Balli Balli

Digging in my global Korea Facing Toolbox: The Defacto Korean Core Value

Many of us are familiar with the Korean term, balli balli.  It translates as hurry-hurry. Actually, balli means hurry, but it word is always used in tandem adding to the need to move fast.  I first recall hearing the word in the 1970s in martial arts class-- my Korean instructor at times commanding we move faster in executing a kicking drills.

To many Korean firms balli balli it's a defacto core value— with everything from immediately responding to requests for data to launching major projects.  More to the point, it means things need to get done today and now, not tomorrow.

For westerners, moving fast can often be a concern-conflicting with the Western business model of careful meticulous study and planning before implementation.

In fact, one complaint voiced with frustration by my Korean clients is how slow Westerners move on projects. In turn, my Western clients shake their head and argue Koreans want to jump into a project or situation with little preparation.…. and balli balli seems to perpetuate a culture of waiting to the last minute.

More Than Meets the Eye…

Observing the Korean model for years, I have come to see where moving faster may be more than meets the eye.  In fact, it’s very entrepreneurial trait.  When one shortens the time needed to complete a project, the focus is then on identifying the critical tasks that contribute most and with quickly moving on to execution.

In contrast, the longer the deadline, the more time gets spent in analysis and discussions with an ever-lessening focus on the task.  The phenomenon is a corollary to Parkinson’s Law (i.e. "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”). In particular, we find end productivity and quality are equal or higher with a shorter deadline due to greater focus.

In my next commentary, and recognizing balli balli is a trait of Korean business, I’ll
share what most Korean leadership would like to see included in their requests – and something rarely provided.

Interested in how I work with companies, Stacey, my personal assistant at stacey@koreabcw.com can coordinate a time for us to chat.

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