Maeil Business Newspaper

Protect your core difficult as this may be

Protect your core difficult as this may be

Amidst the unpredictable and fast-paced changes in the management landscape, many companies are seeing their market confidence erode.

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Protect your core difficult as this may be

Special lecture given by Orit Gadiesh, Chairman of Bain & Company

I like soccer.

On the occasion of the last Worldcup, the warm-hearted Koreans demonstrated to the world the ability to mobilize, strong offense and undaunting spirit of challenge.

Even under the most extreme psychological pressure, soccer players have to play the match.

The same is true for business.

Amidst the unpredictable and fast-paced changes in the management landscape, many companies are seeing their market confidence erode. Following the recent fiasco of American companies such as Enron and Worldcom, European companies are struggling with bad loans.

These events have taught us the important lesson of what happens when companies lose direction and collapse.

Facts and information constantly change but excellent leadership transcends boundaries and eras.

In the Chinese classic 'The Art of War', we rediscover the truth : a CEO too proud leads a company to failure. In 'The Prince', Machiavelli articulates the key components of excellent leadership that is required by a CEO.

It is crucial to search for the 'True North' just as a sailor or an adventurer does when hit by a storm. The true north never changes.

To find the true north, it is important to rely on internal compass, not on an external one.

This internal compass is no other than the core principles, faith and values of a company embraced, shared and trusted by its members. They are the hallmark of a company's distinctive characteristics.

Defending the core value of the company that is different from the competitor during difficult times is the quintessence of the search for the true north.

An excellent leader continues in the direction of the true north with a strong sense of responsibility. In retrospect, our company started the search for true north thirty years ago when we were first founded.

However, some ten years ago in 1991, we were on the brinkmanship of bankruptcy. It was during this difficult time that we acutely realized the importance of pursuing true north. 'Achieving real results for our customers' and 'pursuing the truth, even if this means going against what the customer says' is what true north is all about.

Providing sincere service to the client based on principles, unpleasant as this may be, allowed the company to deeply engrain the true north in the company and achieve success as a result.

Projects that went against the company's principles were not accepted, even if the project was worth 10 million dollars.

We stayed true to our true north, and by doing that, was able to swiftly cope with and adapt to the fast environmental changes.

Different from other companies, we were able to overcome tense situations with one vision. We were able to stick to our style, survive and prosper.

The search for true north applies to every society and country.

Korea controls its own destiny.

If the Korean government pursues the true north and remains focused in developing and executing policies, the growth potential can be limitless.

Executing the core value requires firm determination and perseverance to endure the difficult times.

First, you need to have a sense of ownership.

Although not codified, the core principle of Nestlé as understood by the resigning CEO and the new CEO is the same. This is because all the employees have a clear understanding of the core values of the company.

Second, communicate ceaselessly. Whenever there is training, compensation or promotion, core values need to be emphasized.

Third, take the lead. The CEO should demonstrate the core values with his own behavior.

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