Friday, November 14, 2008

What is important to Wal-Mart?

"If we keep our prices low and raise our average wage substantially, we would, in fact, decrease our profitability disproporationately and we would sacrifice a healthy chunk of what it is that our shareholders expect from us." -- Lee Scott [current President and Chief Executive Officer at the Wal-Mart's 2005 annual shareholder's meeting] (Wal-Mart has the 25th largest economy in the world)

The sadest thing is that because of my business education, my first instinct is still to defend this statement.

1 comment:

  1. I hear what you're saying about your first instinct Dave... I think it says a lot that you can acknowledge that in the moment and see the distinction... In other words, the fact that you identified your own gut reaction as being off the mark means that you are truly challenging conventional wisdom, and searching for what’s TRUE. You can see the distinction between an emotional reaction to a statement, and a thoughtful more satisfying search for what really makes sense and what doesn't.


How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.