|Korean Business with Don Southerton|
In my last commentary, I noted the huge challenges surfacing because of the current disruptive Korean business climate.
In particular, I shared the “why” behind Korean expatriates intervening in the local decision process. In some cases, these decisions are one-sided, lack collaborative and mutual engagement and have consequences.
In turn, western team see themselves consulted only to validate preconceived ideas or to implement directives from Korea.
This has lead to local management seeing their input and expertise being marginalized-- more so with complex situations and long-term planning “drilling deeper” may uncover ramifications.
More specifically, Korean teams under pressure are driven to take immediate action. This can result in little joint discourse related to potential trade-offs and risks in projects assigned to the local subsidiary.
Particularly with a narrow and reactive workplace approach, one can draw an analogy to jigsaw puzzle building.
The pieces to a puzzle have many unique sides. There may be different ways to place them into the puzzle. What is required is to look diligently at all possible options.
Like all challenges, one needs to explore the different possibilities to find the right solution and how the piece fits into the overall puzzle—essentially one needs a reflective mindset.
As a Korean colleague once pointed out, their society beginning with grade school does not promote reflective thinking and instead looks to promote a thought process that leads to more immediate results. In fact, Korean high school students spend more than 14 hours a day studying, memorizing and preparing for exams—a model that stifles creativity.
I also see a cross-cultural aspect with many Korean decisions the result of a team workplace’s collective thought process, and in contrast, reflective thinking stems from an individual’s core consciousness.
Bottom line - reflective thinking requires taking acquiring knowledge and then calling upon one's own experience, utilizing evaluative skills and admitting personal bias.
The result is a broader perspective and a better view of the bigger picture.
Without working through a robust analysis of a problem from multiple angles and considering potential repercussions a solid evaluation can never arise.
All this said, by allowing one to think outside the box through a reflective and conscious lens, the time invested in analysis will lead to effective solutions—required in times of high stress.
All noted, in my next commentary I will provide some workarounds to soften the Korean reactive inclination to jump into implementing and producing immediate results—something we find dominating the current Korean business climate.
More on Korean business at learnmore.koreabcw.com