In my last entry I discussed Sears as an example of a company that stopped asking ‘Why not?’ and started asking ‘Why?’. I believe that this is a major reason why Sears seems to have lost its way as a leading retailer and is going through an elongated ‘aging’ process to what could be its twilight. I think that a big reason that Sears started to decline is that it started playing safe, or trying not to make mistakes, and this lead to a stagnation that can be extremely difficult to overcome. This is what I was referring to when I say they stopped asking ‘Why not?’ and started asking ‘Why?’. There is one other thing that’s important in this equation and that is the courage to follow through and execute your ‘Why not?’ question.
I chose Macys as a positive example of a company that continues to ask ‘Why not?’ and also a company that has the courage to follow through with that conviction. Anyone can look at a company such as Apple, or Google as great examples of innovative companies that continue to ask the question ‘Why not?’ so I thought it is important to focus on an example of a company that has been around for a long time to provide a ‘bookend’ to my negative example of Sears and so I chose Macys because I see them as a company that not only has the initiative to continue to ask ‘Why not?’ and they also have the courage to follow through on the innovation. I also chose Macys because I see this as an example of a company that is driving innovation through a continuous improvement process.
Macys could have followed the same trajectory as Sears, afterall here is a company with a long history and had gone through growth by acquisition, which is always tough to successfully navigate. The difference is that Macys focused on the market, they identified their target market and customers and then they focused on that market. Macys is not trying to be all things to all people, they focus on the niche they have selected in order to be the best in that niche. In addition to a focus on the market, Macys also focuses on the operational and execution side through their supply chain and omni-channel sales. I see this as an example of focusing on the ‘Why not?’ and dismissing the ‘Why?’. This is also where Macys understood their capabilities and more importantly identified where they needed to grow and then focused on growing those capabilities.
The end result is that Macys is considered a leader in the omni-channel sales capabilities along with a leader in their niche. These capabilities were identified and developed over time in a progressive manner that builds on the previous deliverables to continue to add new capabilities and improve on the current capabilities. They have shown their focus on asking ‘Why not?’ by continuing to use their tools in new ways and putting tools together in ways to deliver new features to their customers and also new opportunities for their business to grow. Another point that I find interesting is that Macys’ use of direct to consumer has grown based on the opportunities to support their market share and simplify their customers’ shopping experience. I think that this shows Macys’ focus and commitment to asking ‘Why not?’
Now for the audience participation portion of this program…….
What other examples can you think of that describe the lifecycle of innovation? What other examples can you think of that describes the positive and negative examples of the trajectory in addition to my examples?