Samsung embraces start-up spirit

Samsung embraces start-up spirit

Samsung Electronics on Thursday unveiled a new corporate vision, called "Start-up Samsung," with aims to mimic the flexible and creative business models of burgeoning tech start-ups.

Like other big Korean firms, the nation's largest company has suffered chronic corporate ills such as a top-down work order, frequent after-hours work, unproductive internal meetings and unfair assessment of performance.

Taking a cue from start-ups, the company aims to overhaul its personnel system to elevate productivity across its affiliates.

Under the new vision, Samsung will simplify its organizational structure. While putting less emphasis on job titles, it will promote employees based on performance, regardless of age or years of experience and compensate them well for their achievements.

Internal meetings will be reduced or combined to improve efficiency and speed up decision-making.

Employees will also be allowed to take vacations without restraint, while special long-term vacations such as those for family life or self-development will be more encouraged.

The tentative road map was based on some 1,200 ideas collected during an online discussion held in July with some 26,000 employees participating. More detailed action plans will be finalized by June, the company said.

"The future Samsung will be led by employees in their 20s and 30s. The new slogan will restore our winning spirit among younger generations," said a Samsung executive.

The new vision announcement comes at a crucial juncture when the company is bracing for a leadership transfer to a new generation.

The announcement is also reminiscent of chairman Lee Kun-hee's "New Management Initiative" that was declared in 1993. At the time, the chairman convened some 200 executives to Frankfurt for a week-long meeting and urged them to make all-out efforts to make Samsung products the No. 1 in the world. It was also during the time when he mentioned the famous phrase: "Change everything except your wife and kids."

Since the chairman was hospitalised in 2014, his son, vice chairman Lee Jae-yong has served as the de facto leader of the company. Under the practical leadership of the junior Lee, Samsung has sold off less profitable businesses while acquiring promising start-ups around the world.

Especially Samsung's Silicon Valley campus Global Innovation Center has played a key role in overseeing the company's mergers and acquisitions of start-ups and embracing their success models into Samsung.

Lee has also expressed his affection toward the centre as he visits frequently and mingles with employees there.

Industry watchers say Samsung's fresh experiment with its corporate culture could affect other big companies in Korea.

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