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Is your organization unintentionally slow and clumsy by design?

While not having a strategy to be clumsy and slow, many companies have "unknowingly" become that way due to an inability/unwillingness to change past decisions on strategy, organizational design, and governance. A case in point of this happening is clearly depicted by my recent experience at StuffMart described below.

Finding an offer for K-Cups on detailed as 72 cups (4 - 18 packs) for $35.99, I figured I would save time and money and went to my local Walmart store to make this purchase. I picked up 4 -18 packs of the named product, but they were priced at $10.99 each. I expected this would easily be handled at the register as many other companies do.

Was I wrong! Over the next 20 minutes, I was passed from self-checkout to a cashier, and then customer service only to be told: “ is a different company and they have different SKUs so we cannot match their price. It's just not possible”. Besides clumsy and slow, it was very frustrating since to me there is one Walmart and blaming company structure and policies only made it worse.

StuffMart's past strategy, structure, policies, and compliance-focused culture stopped their employees and managers from "doing the right thing" and delivering satisfactory and easy customer experience. As a result, the company lost money, as I ordered online and they now had to pay for shipping. StuffMart is not alone in having these struggles. Does your company face similar challenges? Are you doing something about it?

P.S. StuffMart just announced effective August 1 that it hired its first Chief Customer Officer to integrate stores and e-commerce. I wish her and StuffMart much luck. They have a tough road ahead unless the company radically transforms its business, starting with not allowing an internal structure decision from becoming a customer-facing challenge. It includes making shifts like becoming customer-centric versus firm-centric, principles-driven versus rules-driven, enabling and empowering employees to make good decisions versus trying to control them and prevent them from doing so, changing measures to reflect these new priorities versus being stuck with past measures reflecting a different time.

Copyright, Jay Weiser and Weiser Strategy Group, 2019.

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