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[Opinion] Competition of Speed

Posted March. 15, 2008 03:00,   


Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates claims that the 1980s was an era of quality, the 1990s an era of reengineering, and the 2000s to be the era of speed in his book titled, “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” He predicted that the success of a company in the twenty-first century would depend on its speed. He also said business should be operated with the speed of thought in the digital era. Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers said that big companies do not always beat small ones, but speedy businesses always defeat slow ones.

Companies that are even a half step behind the rapid changes of the marketplace, can find their very existence at risk. Samsung Electronics surpassed Sony because the Korean company was competitively faster. Experts say the combination of the management’s fast decision-making with Korea’s unique culture of emphasizing speed helped Samsung to outpace the Japanese company, which traditionally values internal agreement and coordination. Meanwhile, Toyota may become the world’s number one car company thanks to its speed. It takes on average 34 to 38 months for General Motors and Ford to develop a new car, but it takes just 18 months for the Japanese car maker.

In its first meeting, with President Lee Myung-bak directly presiding, the National Competitiveness Committee announced that the time needed to receive approval for industrial complexes would shorten to within six months from the current two to four year average. It is commendable that concrete goals were set in its first meeting, though some think the reduction in time is still not fast enough considering the speed of change in business management and the global economy. We have a long way to go in terms of deregulation.

It is probably too much to ask the government to adopt the private sector’s pace. But if the Korean government wants to get ahead of Singapore and Dubai in the competition for speed, this is not enough. The committee, which will lead efforts to revive our economy, should quickly abolish unnecessary regulation from the outset. Speed now determines Korea’s future competitiveness. Public officials should think quickly, make faster decisions, and listen to the voices of people in the field, instead of complaining about their long working hours.