“Mark Twain once proclaimed that ‘If you have nothing to say, then say nothing.” Two highly mediatised events over the past year should remind managers that such literary advice from the 19th Century is just as relevant in the 21st Century business world.”
“Abercrombie and Fitch: “No fat, ugly people”
The most well known case is the infamous Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) “fat, ugly, people” debacle. Faced with criticism that the store did not have clothes for larger sized women (though it does for men), CEO Mike Jeffries came clean about the corporate strategy. He only wanted the “cool” and “beautiful” to be seen wearing their clothes and did not want his products on “fat, ugly people.” Full marks for blatant honesty perhaps but as a communication approach it was a disaster. The following day the stock price of A&F fell by 17%. Mr Jefferies also seemed to have forgotten exactly who were his major customers. Many of them were young people with a developed notion of social responsibility. They might want to look good and feel “cool” but they don’t want to be associated with such elitist opinions.”
“Sales plummeted over the next quarter at Abercrombie & Fitch dragging its share price from a high of $56 to just $31 (a level it has barely improved in the last 18 months.)”
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Next week will be the final week before the end of term in a host of universities across the different parts of the world. For many students this brings the dreaded exam week and often a huge amount of self doubt with it. Many have thoughts of giving up the whole process at this time. After all, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are all college dropouts and they seem to have done alright for themselves. If they could succeed with a degree, is it really necessary to spend all that time and effort? It might seem like a nice idea but unfortunately, these few examples don’t tell the entire story.
The Strategy Book gives a clear and concise introduction to some of the main challenges that organizations face. It has many examples from different industries and challenges the reader to ask some difficult questions about their own practices. It is a useful introduction to the subject and a good book to provoke some discussion for more experienced managers. Continue reading
This book is an interesting and impartial look at the development of Amazon. Unfortunately, it gets off to a terrible start. Any 9th Grader will have heard a hundred times that a good essay begins with a clear and dynamic start and finishes with a punchy conclusion. What a pity that Mr. Brandt seems to have forgotten this advice. The book is actually a very enjoyable read with a lot of information about Amazon. It is you really want to have a good impression of it, you should skip the first and last chapters.
Arthur Miller’s 1949 play, “Death of a Salesman” deals with the demise of Willy Loman, an American salesman, who finds his professional and personal life simultaneously degenerating. The play could almost be symbolic for the treatment of the subject as an academic discipline over the past last half century. Business schools hate the word “sales”. We love “marketing” and “finance” and “strategy”, but the word “sales” with its second-hand car salesman connotation, is distinctly unwelcome in the classroom. Continue reading