Book Summary – Crazy Coreans

I just finished in 3 days the book called ils sont fous ces coréens. Translatation, they are crazy those Coreans.

I will not disclose the full content of this book but just a short summary and personal impressions that I wanted to share

The writter is a senior executive that around 2003 was hired by LG as France General manager.

It was when LG was in Europe not so famous and it was in the boom of LCD tv, mobile phones,..period.

What I will remember of it
– In Europe we could complain about working hours and conditions but compared to other countries we can’t complain. Even sometimes we go to far with unions and trying to protect too much what we have and this has an impact on our competitiivy and attractivity

– Coreans are hierachic – lot of different levels of mgt, every one wants to go one layer up and when you’re senior vp 5, you’re part of the 400 family,you’re then considered as god but you have only renewal 1 year contracts. From one day to the other you could be fired even the CEO
One colleague that came from Samsung told me that it’s just the same over there, but the problem is that due to that there is a lack of long term strategy

– They live for there work; almost no free time, working 6 to 7 days a week during more than 12H per day

– Men world, wife’s stay home in order to support the husband

– No friendship at all, even between colleagues, this can’t be possible. It’s always a fight to move one hierarchic level up.

– Screaming and yelling due to stress and pressure is normal and part of the work atmosphere

– Typically what happens
Manager gives high objectives to the hierachic layer below. And as you can be fired for small performancs  and any deviation, those n-1 managers put even a higher  pressure to the level below to have the objectives achieved.and so the whole pyramid. This makes me think of well famous picture, see below




– Efficiency, there”s one example of a senior vp coming visiting France, all had to be more than perfect and this costed a lof of money just for window dressing. Nothing more than that and no real interest of having done this, but  VP was happy

– As people are affraid and no open communication, people do not say when something goes bad, so small fires becomes big fires before there seen by top mgt

– Delation and gossips are part of the daily life, it ‘s even encouraged

– Managers are brainwashed, go to camps where they have more than 12 h a day courses, have for hours homework after it , sleep less and are during those 2 weeks under pressure. it’s like the army.

– Highly diversified business under one name – Phones, hifi, audio, electro, …..

– Not really open to diversity and foreigners working in the compagny needs to adapt to this culture or leave. They don’t try to open to differences and take the best out of it

– Due to lack of long term strategy and the strang hierarchy there s a lack of innovation or risk taking.Main raison why LG lost huge market share

But not all is negative, this method was for a moment in time highly efficient and during several years the grow of the compagny was dubble digit, even now in emerging country LG is developing good.
Attention to details, rigourisity, hard working, engaged,… are the positive points.

Also looks at Samsung that is still looking good and is highly innovative. So probably by mixing cultures and way of work you could obtain an highy performing organisation but therefore people needs to be open to change.

Finally I’m really interested to know the differences between LG and samsung and why the second is still doing very well? Anyone any experience to share

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Author: chrisfranskin