Catfish Theory: Why Samsung requires a predatory Apple
From Samsung Chairman Lee's perspective, losing against Apple on patents isn't necessarily bad news. The son of the company's founder believes that Samsung needs to get attacked by Apple.
Some people say its corporate culture can be described as a 'fear-based management' and fear is the secret recipe for both Samsung's survival and success. Several Korean media reports claim that Chairman Lee began to come into his office early in the morning, twice a week since March. An owner of Samsung walking into his own building may sound insignificant but this is interesting because he deliberately chose to do so. He doesn't need to leave his house for reports or meetings but understands that his appearance results in stress and fear for hundreds of high-ranking officials working on the floors beneath him and this fearful atmosphere spreads throughout the entire company. Since the early 1990s, Chairman Lee's been vocal about the use of fear to increase Samsung's competitiveness. An internal training book titled: 'Samsungite's terminology' was handed out to its employees in 1993 and inside, we can find the Catfish Theory which explains why fear is crucial for Samsung's operations today.
The Catfish Theory
Written in Chairman Lee's own words, the Catfish theory is one of the most fundamental ideas that still runs through Samsung's veins. As of right now, Apple is the Catfish and Samsung is the smaller fish. When both fish are put inside a big jar, you'll notice that on the left, the smaller fish moves quickly. The fish on the right shows laziness due to the absence of a bigger fish. The illustration shows that whenever you are with someone who is posing a threat, you naturally move faster to avoid the danger of being eaten. When you become more active, you eat more food thus becoming bigger and stronger. He is saying that companies are no different. To prevent from falling behind its competitors, it must recognise that appropriate tension as well as fear are required for sustainable growth.
Therefore, no matter how disappointed its legal team may feel about the verdict, Samsung's leader could possibly be thanking Apple behind closed doors for keeping part of his company on the edge of the seat.