There is a terrific article in The Wall Street Journal today about J.C. Penney. It is worth reading. Here are four noteworthy quotes from the story.
“We didn’t test at Apple.”
Apparently this was CEO Ron Johnson’s response when asked if he would consider testing a radical pricing change at J.C. Penney before rolling it out.
There are just two problems with this comment. First, J.C. Penney isn’t Apple. Second, Ron Johnson isn’t Steve Jobs. When you are considering a major business move it is always good to study and test the idea. You have to use the results carefully, since people don’t always know how to evaluate innovations, but getting customer input helps.
J.C. Penney went forward with the proposed pricing change and results were dismal.
Apparently Steve Jobs didn’t do a lot of testing. From that we can conclude that Steve Jobs didn’t do a lot of testing.
“I hated the J.C. Penney culture. It was pathetic.”
This quote is from J.C. Penney chief operating officer Michael Kramer, a former Apple executive.
An observation: it is always easy to criticize a company but calling your employees pathetic is not a smart way to build loyalty and enthusiasm.
“That’s not a sale. It’s an in-season mark down or a new lower price.”
Revenue at J.C. Penney dropped like a stone after the company eliminated sales. Not surprisingly, J.C. Penney is now running sales. Only Ron Johnson, quoted above, won’t call them sales, which is a little odd.
“No, of course not.”
This is Ron Johnson’s response when asked if he would have done anything differently at J.C. Penney.
The comment indicates Johnson has trouble recognizing when he made a mistake. The first step in delivering better results is realizing when things aren’t working. Johnson’s comment is not a good sign.
It isn’t surprising that the team leading J.C. Penney’s turn-around has struggled to date. Making radical changes without testing, criticizing a team and refusing to admit mistakes are not leadership best practices.
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