The CEO letter that first began in September 2004 has now reached its 100th year. I was pondering over ways to effectively communicate with Hyosung employees, and decided to convey my thoughts to you in the form of a letter. Looking back on the past ten years, I can reflect on the countless stories in the letters and once again feel all sorts of emotions I have shared with you.
The first CEO Letter I have ever written was titled “Creating a Culture in Which We Work Voluntarily Based on Improvement and Communication.” It mostly encouraged the employees to be equipped with abilities suitable for the global environment, communicate smoothly with related organizations, and practice autonomous management moving actively based on conviction.
Coincidentally, this is not much different from the emphasis on responsibility management in the New Year’s message this year. Just like it had been ten years ago, we still must fulfill our responsibility required by our roles to form the basis of corporate management. Then let’s learn about what we must do to fulfill our responsibility from Admiral Yi Sun-Shin.
There is a saying that “the winning army wins before they fight” in The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Yi Sun-Shin is the person who best practiced this law of victory. As you know, Admiral Yi is a hero who dedicated his life to save the country in a desperately dangerous situation. During the Japanese Invasion of Korea, he made miraculous military achievements of not losing a single one of the 23 battles he fought. The biggest reason for his great achievements is that he had been prepared with all the conditions to win before he entered the battles.
He first took active measures by determining the advantages and disadvantages of his own people as well as the opponents. He figured that the Japanese army was good at fighting on the enemy’s ship with warriors armed with short-range firelocks and good sword-fighting skills. Thus he created the Turtle Ship (Geobukseon) covered with shell-like armor roof to fight near the enemy. He also used the advantage of the strong Joseon panokseon (board-roofed ship) to fire guns with great shooting range on the ship, which enabled him to fight at a long distance.
Moreover, he stayed up all night developing new strategies and tactics with the commanders, and devoted himself to training with strenuous efforts with the military. As a result, he turned the tide of the war at the Battle of Hansando, using high-level tactics and capabilities like the crane wing formation (hagikjin).
Before he entered the battle, he thoroughly explored the movement of the enemy lines and decentralized the enemy, focusing his attack with integrated fighting strength. He implemented the strategy that preoccupies the relative absolute superiority in the state of the battle while the overall military power was inferior.
He also made the most of the environmental conditions. Before the Japanese invasion, he strived to investigate the geographical features and tidal currents of the jurisdiction and grasp the strategic locations to use in battles as soon as he was appointed as the commander of the Jeolla Left Navy. Due to these efforts, he produced excellent results in the Battle of Myeongryang as he defeated 133 ships of the enemy with only 13 ships, making the most of the conditions of the Myeongryang Sea with the rapid currents and narrow streams
On the other hand, Won Gyun is mentioned as a figure contrary to Admiral Yi. Though he fully mobilized hundreds of ships of the Joseon navy, he suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Chilcheollyang as he entered the battle with a lack of information on the enemy, no precise strategies and no thorough preparations. Yi and Won both had the same goal ----- saving the country ----- but the results were completely different.
We are now living in a whirlwind of the fierce competition of the global economy. Just like Japan’s invasion with armed force 400 years ago, countless companies today are participating in cutthroat competitions in the global market in order to expand their economic territories.
In this situation, we cannot make the achievements we anticipated if we carry forward a business plan recklessly without sufficient market analysis and competitive advantages such as technology, quality, cost and sales power; rather, it would put the company in danger.
Our company is also facing many difficulties in various business fields contrary to our expectations due to lack of prior preparations and business capabilities. Therefore, we must all closely analyze the market conditions and competitors based on thorough responsibility, and start making the conditions to win the competition by determining our shortcomings.
When turning all this into practice, we must get rid of the passive and idle attitude of waiting for someone to help, and make a resolution to surely finish the tasks given to us. Moreover, the culture of responsibility management can be established only when we have comprehensive expertise and strong abilities to find things we must do ourselves and make accomplishments according to our goals. I hope all of us become the heroes in making Hyosung the top global company.
Written by Vice Chairman Lee Sang-woon