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The Wal-Mart Decade: How a New Generation of Leaders Turned Sam Walton's Legacy Into the World's #1 C

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Inside one of America's most remarkable success stories, from the bestselling author of Jack Welch and the G.E. Way. Two of the toughest challenges for any company are leadership transitions and rapid growth. How do you replace an enormously popular and beloved CEO-especially one who started from scratch to create a national icon? And how do you maintain a rapid growth ra Inside one of America's most remarkable success stories, from the bestselling author of Jack Welch and the G.E. Way. Two of the toughest challenges for any company are leadership transitions and rapid growth. How do you replace an enormously popular and beloved CEO-especially one who started from scratch to create a national icon? And how do you maintain a rapid growth rate without losing the culture and focus of a small company? Over the past ten years, since the death of the legendary Sam Walton, Wal-Mart has passed both challenges with flying colors. In 1992, it had revenues of $43.9 billion; now it's number one on the Fortune 500 list of America's largest companies, with revenues of $218 billion. Sam Walton's successors have taken the company into far-flung new markets and new directions yet without losing the down-to-earth retailing culture that made Wal-Mart thrive in its early years, when its business model was truly revolutionary. Robert Slater, a highly respected business journalist and author, was granted unprecedented access to the company while writing The Wal-Mart Decade. He takes readers deep into the inner circle, where the big decisions are made about strategy and operations. And he weaves a fascinating, accessible story about the many challenges of the past decade and how Wal-Mart built on its founder's legacy to overcome them.


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Inside one of America's most remarkable success stories, from the bestselling author of Jack Welch and the G.E. Way. Two of the toughest challenges for any company are leadership transitions and rapid growth. How do you replace an enormously popular and beloved CEO-especially one who started from scratch to create a national icon? And how do you maintain a rapid growth ra Inside one of America's most remarkable success stories, from the bestselling author of Jack Welch and the G.E. Way. Two of the toughest challenges for any company are leadership transitions and rapid growth. How do you replace an enormously popular and beloved CEO-especially one who started from scratch to create a national icon? And how do you maintain a rapid growth rate without losing the culture and focus of a small company? Over the past ten years, since the death of the legendary Sam Walton, Wal-Mart has passed both challenges with flying colors. In 1992, it had revenues of $43.9 billion; now it's number one on the Fortune 500 list of America's largest companies, with revenues of $218 billion. Sam Walton's successors have taken the company into far-flung new markets and new directions yet without losing the down-to-earth retailing culture that made Wal-Mart thrive in its early years, when its business model was truly revolutionary. Robert Slater, a highly respected business journalist and author, was granted unprecedented access to the company while writing The Wal-Mart Decade. He takes readers deep into the inner circle, where the big decisions are made about strategy and operations. And he weaves a fascinating, accessible story about the many challenges of the past decade and how Wal-Mart built on its founder's legacy to overcome them.

30 review for The Wal-Mart Decade: How a New Generation of Leaders Turned Sam Walton's Legacy Into the World's #1 C

  1. 4 out of 5

    Toe

    Objective Summary In his 2003 book and with access to top management, Slater tries to answer this question: “How has the subsequent generation of Wal-Mart leadership turned the company into the most successful company in the world despite the departure of its founder Sam Walton a decade earlier [in 1992].” Slater explores Wal-Mart’s rise from a single store in Rogers, Arkansas circa 1962 to the international juggernaut it became by the turn of the century. Though still a powerful and profitable c Objective Summary In his 2003 book and with access to top management, Slater tries to answer this question: “How has the subsequent generation of Wal-Mart leadership turned the company into the most successful company in the world despite the departure of its founder Sam Walton a decade earlier [in 1992].” Slater explores Wal-Mart’s rise from a single store in Rogers, Arkansas circa 1962 to the international juggernaut it became by the turn of the century. Though still a powerful and profitable company, Wal-Mart’s increased competition from online retailers (read Amazon) goes unmentioned by Slater. Wal-Mart’s success started with its founder. Samuel Walton Moore was born March 29, 2018 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. The depression era instilled in him a sense of frugality and competitiveness that he maintained throughout his life. “From an almost irrational self-confidence evolved a decisiveness that made Walton one of the great artists of business execution.” He was a franchisee of Ben Franklin’s five and dime stores before opening his first Wal-Mart in 1962. In 1970, almost $2 million in debt despite from rapid expansion of his profitable stores, Walton took Wal-Mart public. By 1979, Wal-Mart had 276 stores; 21,000 employees; and $1 billion in annual revenue. Wal-Mart focused on serving customers in rural areas by selling a high volume of a wide variety of products at everyday low prices. At the time, major retailers operated only in large cities and used temporary discounts to lure customers into stores. Walton’s wife, Helen, made him promise they would always live in a small town, which contributed greatly to his focus on rural areas. The home office is still in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walton ruthlessly homed in on costs, then reduced or eliminated them. With lower costs, he sold his products at discounted prices—always. He focused on corporate culture and the importance of satisfying customers. He kept a low personal and corporate profile to avoid unwanted attention from competitors, regulators, and the media. Walton was likeable and charismatic. He would habitually greet anyone who approached within 10 feet. He visited stores as often as possible and held internal weekly meetings every Saturday morning to disperse information about the company—both its shortcomings and successes. Walton implemented “QMI” or quick market intelligence at the meetings by speaking with employees and monitoring competitors. He resisted any expenses that he could not see directly impacting customers. He had limited, or no, departments dedicated to public relations, human resources, or government relations. He adopted new technologies, like computers and automation, but with resistance. Walton was a merchandiser, promoter, communicator, and risk-taker. His formula worked. By 1985, Walton was the richest man in America, and Wal-Mart was rapidly approaching and surpassing the sales of other retailers like Woolworth’s, JC Penney, Kmart, and Target. By 1992, Walton died of cancer, and a new generation of leaders assumed the stewardship of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s success continues with its founder’s replacements. Walton’s eldest son, Rob Walton, worked at Wal-Mart as a lawyer who focused on real estate and international expansion. Rob served as Chairman of the Board after his father passed, and one of his three siblings (John, Jim, and Alice) also served on the Board. According to Slater, the Walton’s owned 61% of Wal-Mart’s stock at the time of his book (and a recent internet search shows the family continues to own about 50% of the stock). But management of the company was left in the hands of a competent team of executives who had come up through the company. As CEO, David Glass succeeded Walton, and Lee Scott succeeded Glass. In the 10 years after Walton’s death, Wal-Mart continued to grow quickly and successfully. The difficulty for the generations of leaders following Walton was deciding how much of his original vision to keep and when that vision needed updating. Glass and Scott agreed that maintaining a culture laser-focused on the customer and sprinkled with positivity and happiness was important. Glass and Scott continued to lead the “Wal-Mart cheer” at the beginning of shareholder meetings and stores around the world. They also continued the traditions of an open-door policy and continuous improvement. Rather than hiding bad news, they wanted to hear it and address it. David Glass was a risk-taker, logistics and food sales expert, effective manager, embracer of technology, growth king, and fearless decisionmaker. He expanded Wal-Mart’s store count rapidly with a focus on supercenters, opening hundreds per year. Don Soderquist was COO and Vice Chairman who served while Glass was CEO. Soderquist maintained the Wal-Mart culture and was an effective cheerleader for the brand and the culture after Walton passed away. Scott, who became CEO after Glass retired, was a logistics expert who came up through the trucking division of Wal-Mart. Scott spearheaded Wal-Mart’s international growth in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Japan, Korea, and China. As of 2003, Germany was challenging for Wal-Mart because of the high labor costs, while China was challenging but promising. Canada, Mexico, and the UK were some of Wal-Mart’s more successful international ventures. Wal-Mart’s continued success after the death of its founder is due to maintaining core competencies and values while adjusting to new realities from unprecedented growth. Walton was able to spend most of his time in stores and personally interacting with his employees. With more than 1.5 million employees spread across 10 countries, Glass and Scott could not possibly maintain the same level of personal contact with employees. So they delegated while still emphasizing the importance of culture. Walton resisted technology as an unnecessary expenditure; Glass and Scott embraced it as a competitive advantage. Walton focused on discount stores in the United States; Glass pushed supercenters and Neighborhood Markets while Scott expanded internationally. Wal-Mart’s very growth and success created new challenges, including a necessary but evil corporate bureaucracy (4,000 store managers report to 350 district managers report to 35 regional vice presidents report to 6 division heads report to head of Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Clubs in the United States; and 50 senior vice presidents report to 20 executive vice presidents report to CEO), media exposure and criticism, political interest, and legal challenges from slip and falls to discrimination claims to class-action suits. Wal-Mart expanded its departments for public relations, human resources, and general counsel. They listened to critics and used criticism as an opportunity for introspection and improvement. The results have been continued success as Wal-Mart became the largest company in the world by annual sales around 2001. Wal-Mart also became the first company to top Fortune’s “most admired” and “biggest” lists simultaneously. Slater wrote this book in 2003 when Wal-Mart was the biggest company in the world with $245 billion in revenue. The 10 companies with the most revenue in 2017 are: Walmart – $485.9 billion revenue in 2017 State Grid Corporation of China – $315.2 billion revenue in 2017 Sinopec Group – $267.5 billion revenue in 2017 China National Petroleum Corporation – $262.6 billion revenue in 2017 Toyota Motor – $254.7 billion revenue in 2017 Volkswagen – $240.3 billion revenue in 2017 Royal Dutch Shell – $240 billion revenue in 2017 Berkshire Hathway – $223.7 billion revenue in 2017 Apple Inc. – $215.6 billion revenue in 2017 Exxon Mobil – $205 billion revenue in 2017 Outside the top 10, Amazon had revenue of $178 billion, and Alphabet (parent company of Google) had revenue of $111 billion. In other words, Wal-Mart has nearly as much revenue as Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet combined. Wal-Mart, for the win. Subjective Thoughts This book is only ok because it is repetitive despite its short length. It is favorable towards Wal-Mart, and I like that. Wal-Mart was my first employer, and they treated me well. I am still a loyal customer today despite criticisms from competitors, labor unions, and morons on social media who know nothing of business. Wal-Mart is undeniably and overwhelmingly a force for good. Their efficiency has raised the standard of living for countless Americans and people around the world while reducing humanity’s environmental footprint. That’s what efficiency does. Who has a greater incentive than Wal-Mart to transport goods as easily and inexpensively as possible? Reductions of waste make life better and cleaner for all. Wal-Mart is not perfect. But the standard for any person or company cannot be perfection. And I would happily put Wal-Mart’s record up against the record of any other entity. Revealing Quotes “Sam Walton thought of business as a simple exercise, so he kept his strategies uncomplicated: buy cheaply, sell cheaply, keep your shelves well stocked, treat your customers with warmth and respect, and pay careful attention to what your rivals are doing right.” “In its most elementary form, the culture consisted of Three Basic Beliefs: 1) respect for the individual; 2) service to the customers; and 3) striving for excellence.” “[Sam Walton’s 10 rules of business are:] Commit to your business Share your profits with all your Associates, and treat them as partners Motivate your partners Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners Appreciate everything your Associates do for the business Celebrate your success Listen to everyone in your company Exceed your customers’ expectations Control your expenses better than your competition Swim upstream”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Martinez

    Muestra la historia de Walmart y la década tan importante que fue de 1992 a 2002 después se la muerte de Sam Walton y como un nuevo equipo de líderes logro expandir la empresa y a mi entender sacrificando gran parte de la cultura que con tanto empeño logro establecer su fundador.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tirath

    I expected quite a bit from this book, but it was a lot of general stuff peppered with some numbers and mini bios of Lee Scott and Sam Walton. Most of the story was known to me, and the book didnt do enough to throw light on the changes at Walmart. All in all - a poor book Dont waste time on it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    VaughanPL

    Click here to find it in the catalogue. Click here to find it in the catalogue.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sui Fong

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nishiggandha

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Lomnicki,

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leom Valencia

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ralf Sigmund

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

  12. 5 out of 5

    Travis

  13. 4 out of 5

    Asgeir

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany M Morgan

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Newland

  17. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Damon

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe L

  21. 5 out of 5

    Danial

  22. 5 out of 5

    June

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anupam Yadav

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Mckendry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Afiya

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Attama

  30. 5 out of 5

    Harrison Jorritsma

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