Hyundai Revs Up

Chung Mong Koo, chairman of South Korea's Hyundai Motor, carefully scrutinizes a newly designed gearshift lever for the automaker's Sonata sedan while his entire senior management team hovers around, anxiously awaiting his approval. The execs are justifiably edgy. Engineers added a plastic plate beneath the shifter to prevent spilled coffee and other flotsam from falling into the mechanism and gumming it up. It's a minor change, but no one is treating it that way, least of all Chung, a hard-nosed, detail-oriented boss with a penchant for micromanagement. ("He still makes the decision on how big a Christmas tree to put in...