This is personal. In the 1960’s growing up in Chicago’s suburbs, my parents furnished their home with just about everything from Sears. My mother and I frequented the big Sears store in the Loop. After we moved to Michigan, my father offered several shares of Sears’ stock as collateral for a loan for my first business (Salisbury’s Apiaries, another story for another day). We watched in 1973 as the world’s tallest building, the Sears Tower, opened in Chicago’s loop.

By then the winds of change had already started to blow. In 1977, I started my career at Whirlpool Corporation. Whirlpool was Sears’ largest supplier and Sears its biggest customer. One year later, I attended a company quarterly meeting where a senior leader told us that the executive team was concerned about Sears’ future, and Whirlpool would put greater focus on their own brands and marketing strategy. That was 40 years ago. Sadly, their predictions proved true. Sears is now all but gone.

What happened? Walmart entered the national marketplace in the 1970’s. Sears could not fulfill product commitments. Sears went into the insurance and real estate businesses which diluted their focus. With the rise of the internet, they were late to the party. They stopped investing in their stores.

They lost their way. They did not remain true to their purpose. They became complacent and distracted. They lost touch with their employees. These issues caused them to lose touch with their marketplace.

Over and over I see successful leaders do one thing quite well. They define and stay true to their purpose. Whatever the scale of the transformation they:

  • Define a clear purpose, and state it in terms of tangible outcomes.
  • Ensure their leadership team is aligned to these outcomes.
  • Work to eliminate cross-functional dysfunction that hampers realization of the outcomes.
  • Communicate frequently and repetitively about the value of the transformation and its outcomes.
  • Seek real time feedback from all levels of the organization to assess progress and potentially modify the course of action required to implement their transformation.
  • Enroll employees to drive the transformation. Managers define processes and measures; front-line employees determine how the changes will impact them and their peers and act accordingly.

As a leader driving transformational change in your organization, ask yourself the questions posed  above.

Having worked with executives driving successful transformational change, I am uniquely qualified to help you achieve the value you expect from your program. Contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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