Mr. Nam-seog Byeon, a Partner at CE-NBD in Korea, supports top management teams and business leaders in developing and executing strategies for growth. As a certified Where to Play consultant, he decided to translate the book to Korean and make the tool accessible to local universities and corporates. In this short interview, Nam-seog shares insights on why and how he made it happen.


1) As a certified Where to Play consultant (Alumnus of Cohort 1), how do you see the Market Opportunity Navigator adding value to your work with clients?

I find the Market Opportunity Navigator to be effective not only for start-ups, but also for established companies when developing new business lines or engaging in corporate venturing.

Established companies tend to focus on related markets, applying their core technologies and capabilities in current domains and applications. We can use the Market Opportunity Navigator together with other strategic frameworks during the early stage of new business development. It can help established companies to think outside their traditional perspectives and search broadly for innovative ideas and new business opportunities, while maintaining an alignment with the strategic vision of the firm.


2) Do you see any cultural differences between Asia/Rest of the world when it comes to rational decision-making in businesses?

I currently don’t see substantial differences in business decision-making between Asian companies and firms around the world.

Until recently, many Asian companies- especially those in developing economies- designed their catch-up strategies with a bit more emphasis on spiritual aspirations. However, as more businesses are grown and moving towards digital innovations and technologies, Asian firms -whether established or start-ups – adopt a more disciplined approach in decision-making.


3) You recently translated the book Where to Play to Korean. Can you share with us why you decided to embark on this project? Why do you see a need for a tool like the Market Opportunity Navigator in Korea?

I found the book and the Market Opportunity Navigator useful when I was teaching graduate students – mostly working managers/executives – in a Corporate Venturing class at one of the universities in Korea. The worksheets and the depicted process were easy to understand and very systematic and structured. I believe it is highly valuable to equip managers with such fundamental frameworks and straightforward tools.

As mentioned in the book, there are many how-to tools for start-ups and corporate ventures, but few deal with figuring out where-to-play. The situation in Korea is similar. Trained as a strategist, I believe that we need to start with understanding where-to-play when developing new ventures or business lines.

I started the translation of the book as a mental exercise last year to overcome the COVID pandemic situation while working from home. It had been slow until I joined the certification program last October when I made up my mind to publish the translation and share this know-how with innovators in Korea.


4) How did you contact a local publisher? What was required from you? How long did the process take?

One of my former colleagues who is a professor of technology transfer at the university introduced me to a Korean publisher. The publisher specializes in business/management books as well as university text books, which was a perfect match for Where to Play.

We formed a team of co-translators with another professor of entrepreneurship education and a CEO of a startup to quickly finish the translation and test the framework. We took special care in translating the key concepts appropriately, such as Agile Focus Strategy for example, and added a short introduction of key concepts and terminologies to help Korean readers understand the core idea of the book.

It took us two months to translate the book, and another three months for three rounds of editing and contracting. The journey took some coordination efforts, but it was surely enjoyable.


5) What are your plans to promote the book in Korea?

The books were distributed to major off-line and online bookstores on June, including Kyobo Book – the #1 bookstore in Korea.

We are currently promoting the book to universities and to established companies. We introduced the book to communities of professors, as two co-translators are working in technology transfer and in entrepreneurship education respectively.

Another approach is to introduce the book and the Market Opportunity Navigator to established companies that are interested in tools and processes originating from the startup world. A number of large corporations have also been operating corporate venturing programs and try to implement start-up tools in their new business/new product development processes.

While start-ups and accelerators/incubator who may have interest in workshops and training programs are a core target for the book, we currently have limited access to those potential clients. We therefore would like to promote the book and the Market Opportunity Navigator online while focusing on universities and established companies.


Order your Korean copy here, or download the translated worksheets.

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