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[Opinion] Stand Out in a Crowd

Posted July. 05, 2007 03:06,   


Samsung Group recently distributed posters to affiliated companies that say, “Gun-gye-il-hak,” an old Chinese proverb meaning “the one who stands out in a crowd.” The same words were used as the main title for the summer edition of the group’s in-company magazine “Samsung World.” The message urges Samsung employees to arm themselves with creativity so that they can shine among a featureless crowd. The message also goes hand in hand with Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s key management philosophy: “One genius can feed millions.”

At the center of the creative management theme Samsung is pursuing are two aspects: change and high quality human resources. The main theme of the “Samsung World” spring issue was “innovating every day.”

What Lee emphasizes underneath the fancy words, such as creativity and high quality human resources, is a sense of crisis, however. Lee is well known for spreading a “sense of crisis.” In January, he said, “Korea is sandwiched between Japan ahead of us and China right behind us. If Korea doesn’t act fast, the Korean economy may face a crisis in five to six years.” This characteristic sense of crisis explains Samsung’s zeal to find new businesses and business restructuring options. Samsung Electronics begun receiving applications for voluntary resignations recently as well.

This sense of crisis is not confined to Samsung. It is a norm among Korean business leaders to use crisis as momentum for a change – a lesson that the current carefree administration would do well to learn. LG electronics diverted 40 percent of its administrative human resources to core business sectors. Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors are actively seeking ways to cut costs in all areas, including procurement, production, sales and R&D. SK and Lotte groups have turned their eyes overseas to find new growth models. To make a long story short, all the leading Korean companies are working hard to prepare for any future challenges.

On the other hand, our politicians seem obsessed with the upcoming presidential elections for the time being. This is why Korean companies sweating to survive in the global market deserve all the more praise. According to a report, major Korean companies such as Samsung, Hyundai Motors, SK and LG have been known to exert the most influence and receive most trust in the Korean society for three consecutive years. Other groups such as political parties, various authorities and civil groups are way behind in terms of their influence and trust in our society. The public’s support to our companies indicates that our market economy has hope. Unfortunately, it seems like just as many are giving companies a hard time.

Heo Seung-ho, Editorial Writer, tigera@donga.com