Реальный урок ошибки Samsung: работники без критического мышления и права на критику

Реальный урок ошибки Samsung: работники без критического мышления и права на критику

by Евгений Волков -
Number of replies: 0

Thoughts of the Times

Real lesson of Samsung's error

Posted : 2017-02-09 17:29

Updated : 2017-02-09 17:34


By Paul M. Swiercz

The New York Times featured an article entitled "Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Signals Problems at Korea Inc" in its Jan. 23 edition. 

The article appeared on the day of my return from teaching a version of my graduate leadership course at Yonsei University titled, "Critical Thinking Skills for Executive Leadership." As a longtime observer of Korean business practices and co-founder of the Korean Management Institute at the George Washington University, I had to read the article closely and critically. 

The article sought to answer the question on the minds of everyone: How could such a technologically advanced titan ― a symbol of South Korea's considerable industrial might ― allow the problems to happen to begin with? 

As suggested by the title, the authors answer the question by concluding that the problem isn't just a Samsung problem. Instead, it's symptomatic of the Korean system of management generally. More specifically, it argues that a "top down management style" pervades the country. Coupled with a too cozy relationship between the chaebol and the government, the Samsung failure is said to be a national failure. 

It is on this point that I disagree. 

The Note 7 incident is indeed a huge "business" mistake. A mistake embarrassing to Samsung and also the nation of Korea. 

What I disagree with is the implication that that the Samsung mistake should be viewed differently than any other major corporate error. The recent scandal at Volkswagen wasn't interpreted as an indicator of Germany's impending decline. And likewise, the scandal at Wells Fargo wasn't interpreted as an indicator of America's impending decline. 

The real takeaway is two sided and common to all three failures. The first lesson is that poor leadership has consequences. Company executives in charge must accept their personal responsibility. 

But the second lesson is subtle and more difficult to resolve. Namely, "employees must be empowered and expected to challenge poor leaders." Employees have a responsibility to critically evaluate and proactively challenge corrosive management decisions. 

And this is where "critical thinking skills" become important. If employed effectively by both managers and subordinates, errors like those at Samsung, Volkswagen and Wells Fargo can be prevented before they happen. 

Skilled critical thinkers make great bosses, especially when paired with skilled critical thinking subordinates.

If Korea wants to continue the miracle of the past six decades, it's time to develop the critical thinking skills of its workforce and implement the policies required to support them.

Dr. Paul M. Swiercz is a full professor and former chair of the Department of Management at the George Washington University. He is also co-founder of the Korean Management Institute and recently published a case study of the CJ Group. 

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