Monday, September 26, 2016

Everything Korea: September 26 Episode, “Hit the Target”

A week does not go by without a colleague or client expressing deep concern for what seems an overarching and singular need for their company to Hit their Numbers.  To most, despite a number of vital business initiatives, they feel the monthly demand to meet “Plan” is all that matters.

Frankly, as long as I have been working with Korea facing global business it has been a (the) driven force.  In fact, I can recall more than a decade ago while mentoring a new American divisional vice president that his Korean coordinator, obviously under some duress and knowing I understood the company well, pulled me aside. He asked passionately I stress to the new VP they needed to “Hit the Target.”  Repeating the phase, 3 times so to ensure I got it… then patting me on the back and sending me over to the adjacent office with the VP.

In another case, I was a speaker at LG’s Mobile national sales meeting.  Capping the upbeat and motivating event, the CEO with a huge graph projected behind him shared their amazing unit sales growth over for the years, then added the next year’s “stretch goal” as a hush came over the room. The new goal a huge bump over past years, which had pushed teams and the organization to their limits.  

To be fair, this model is not unique to Korean business. It is also the subject on frequent discussion in Korea.  However, South Korea’s modern economy was once rooted in a state run export driven model—the government fixing private industries and well as the nation’s overall production and sales quotas in many sectors.  Today despite leading international as well as Korean economic experts arguing the old model is dated and need to move more to the service sector…   the export production model still remains a driving force… one now where Korean Groups now direct their own organizations production and sales numbers across global organizations and into numerous markets.  In part with so much of the Korean identify, economy and jobs tied to export production the Groups are under pressure to continue to seek growth each year—push the teams even harder.  More so, with global stagnation in new markets and China, the past successes are marginalized. As a consequence Sales to move inventories has to rely on special pricing and incentives, which hurt brand image and profits.

Sadly Korea brands are world class and should sell based on their quality and value from cars to smartphones.

So what’s the solution?  
First we need to accept this has long been the foundation of Korean business and it has been their proven success model.  It's part of their Culture and in a sense Tradition accepted by many.  In turn, others do hope and argue for Korea to re-invent and redefine itself, less focused on growth numbers and more on a being a leader in new technology and innovation synonymous with Silicon Valley.

Care to discuss some additional solutions?  My personal assistant Stacey at can coordinate a time for us to chat by phone, meet or handle by email.

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