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A Double Success Story


I really enjoy reading accounts of how companies overcome a minefield of obstacles to achieve both financial and social success. It’s much easier to achieve financial success at the top in exchange for social freedom at the bottom than it is to achieve success in both areas at the same time (hint: HR groups are the greatest impediment to dual success). For confirmation of this assertion, simply look at the coupling between profit margins and social misery at any third world sweatshop.

One such double financial + social success story is told in the Fast Company article:” How Target’s CEO Inspires Teamwork At A Massive Scale”. However, BD00, the saucy and skeptical bloke that he is, always consumes such anecdotes with a grain of salt when the narrator is a single soul from the C-level suite. In the Target story, the telltaler is the CEO himself, Mr. Gregg Steinhafel.

The good news is that Gregg wasn’t appointed from without. He rose through the ranks:

“A veteran of Target’s rank and file, Steinhafel joined the company back in 1979, worked his way up over the next two decades to become president, and eventually took the corner office in 2008.

The bad news is that when you traverse the article and pluck out his quotes, they are the same old, same old:

“We are the coaching staff that help design the playbook, but implement it at the same time.”

“At Target, nothing happens without a large, collaborative effort.”

“Everyone is a mentor and mentee. It is one of the fun and exciting parts of [any] job.”

“It’s our responsibility to act and continue to support the teams.”

“All the senior leaders like to sit down and forward think, and anticipate where the puck is going.”

“We benchmark against the world’s best to develop ideas for future growth.”

“We are constantly checking in.”

Direct quotes and disrespectfully snarky graphic aside, the double success story at Target seems genuine and I’m thrilled that the company has leveraged social media tools to improve its performance through networked collaboration. I just wish that some lower level employees were asked to contribute to its telling – anonymously, of course.

For sure, you’ll easily find a ton of one-sided, C-suite-sourced stories like this Target tale in the mainstream press and best-selling business book section at Amazon.com. However, you won’t find any in the works of Ackoff, Argyris, Deming, Block, Culbert, Cohen, Livingston, and other dirty rotten scoundrels. The stories they tell are the stories I find fascinating and mind-changing.

Note: I’ve had a vague and notional image of the pull-cord executive doll in my contaminated mind for several months now. I finally conjured up a BS post to host it. Whoo Hoo!

Categories: management Tags: , ,
  1. October 15, 2012 at 11:24 am | #1

    It could well be the case at Target for a very simple reason. Target’s key market segments are closely related to who their average employee is, thus if you are not making most of your employees happy then it is highly unlikely that you are meeting the needs of the consumers walking in the door either.

    To many companies forget that often your own employees especially those at the lower levels of the company also represent your customer base as well.

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