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DecisionNext Blog

Toys R Us or Cargill?

Published by Janette Barnard June 15, 2018

Are you a Toys R Us or a Cargill?

This isn’t a “do you prefer grain trading to playing with GI Joes” question, this is a question about business ambition and agility.

Before you decide, consider 2 recent articles.

1) Whether you were a Toys R Us kid or not, you probably know this company has gone from king of retail to asset liquidation. The demise of Toys R Us is partially a story about financing terms gone awry, partially a story about short sighted leadership, and mostly a story about failing to adapt...aka letting Amazon eat their lunch.

But one of the most interesting lines from the article referenced is this:
“And though the company had wrested back its website, when it finally upgraded its technology to allow customers to check out in fewer than five steps, it was already a half-decade behind.”

That’s a powerful reminder of the cost of lost time, isn’t it? Lost time, lost market share, lost profit, lost trajectory....the death spiral.

2) Meanwhile Cargill, the 153 year old agricultural giant, is making headlines for their willingness to make difficult but swift decisions to move the company forward in a changing world. They’re streamlining their business model. They’re investing human and financial capital in a clear digitization initiative.

So, are you a Toys R Us or a Cargill? If you’re a Cargill - hats off!

But if you’re a Toys R Us...or you’re not sure? Let’s consider some reasons you might be drifting towards Toys R Us territory.

You don’t feel the pain it takes to change. If you’re a beef processor, you’re probably making $300-400/head right now. Why take drastic measures when life is so good? *whispers: but market cycles*

You don’t take it seriously because your senior leadership doesn’t take it seriously. Culture matters. When senior leaders don’t take risks and seek innovative ideas, then middle managers don’t take risks and seek innovative ideas, and new talent quickly realizes risk taking and innovative ideas aren’t valued. Oops?

You aren’t set up to move fast. A senior exec recently said they are on the cutting edge of a certain technology because they had “commissioned a 900 page report”. Nope. It takes internal infrastructure from budgets, people resources, even incentive structures to drive action around innovation to actually implement and realize value. Innovation for the sake of itself isn’t what we’re after, its tangible competitive advantage....and that doesn’t happen on its own.

What active steps are you taking this month/quarter/year to stay ambitious and agile?

Unsure how to drive innovation & change in your organization, or maybe even unconvinced you need to? Take a look at how Amazon is actively and dramatically changing the meat industry and the trends you need to get ahead of.

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This article was originally published on Meatingplace.