The largest retailer in the United States in the 1950’s was Sears. In May of 1950 Sam Walton founded Walmart and Sears was not concerned. Today Walmart is ranked #29 on the Forbes Global 2000 (Companies) List based on revenues, profits, assets and market value … and Sears declared bankruptcy, October of 2018.
Why are some rules, polices, procedures or business practices that are obsolete or dead, still being followed? Researchers have found that once a “RULE” is written down and used in a company, it is very difficult to be eliminated … even though the original reason(s) for it being created has disappeared. The “RULE” becomes the LAW, not to be challenged by anyone. It seems that employees who challenge or question rules are seen as troublemakers or agitators, who are viewed negatively by senior management. That type of business culture will eventually devastate any company.
Once upon a time the newspaper industry was one of the largest employers in America. No more. At its peak (1990) in the United States, the newspaper industry employed 457,800. Today that number has almost totally evaporated. Now only 38,000 are employed in that industry. New research shows that over 2,000 newspapers have closed in the last 15 years. Circulation of daily newspapers has dropped to a 77-year low, signaling an end to print and a shift to all-digital delivery.
I’m preparing to deliver a program next week, and the CEO of the company I’m speaking to, identified several topics he wanted me to discuss, placing particular emphasis on one issue. He said, “Rob, we can’t rest on our laurels. We have been very successful, and I don’t want our employees to think we are invulnerable. Can you make sure they understand we have to fight every day to maintain our success?”
Rubbermaid “thought” they needed more products to be the leader in their industry. So, they set out to invent a new product every day for several years, while also entering a new product category every 12-18 months. Fortune magazine wrote that Rubbermaid was more innovative than 3M, Intel and Apple; now that is impressive.