JC Penney: Gloat edition

What’s the difference between God and Ron Johnson?

God never thought he was Ron Johnson.

In the wake of Ron Johnson’s ouster as JC Penney CEO there’s been plenty of gloating.

In fact, nearly all of Johnson’s tenure saw myriad industry analysts, pundits and denizens of the 24 hour news cycle become practically giddy in pointing out the perceived failings of his transformation strategy and his seeming lack of self-awareness.

When he finally got the axe, the sheer volume of “I told you so” and “it’s about time” tweets made me think that Twitter was going to launch a sister site named schadenfreude.com

Now regular readers of this blog will surely recall that I have written multiple posts, as early as March of 2012, challenging Johnson’s strategy and predicting its failure. Frankly, having been the head of strategy at two Fortune 500 department store retailers–and now being in the business of peddling strategic advice to the retail industry–I believed I had both the relevant experience and the marketing need to be out there as a vocal critic.

But I do think it’s entirely fair to say that, at times, I did go overboard. As an ego addict in recovery, I find that this still happens from time to time.

I hope that any of us who may have taken perverse pleasure in pointing out the foolishness of the Johnson regime come to accept at least three important realities.

First, that their mis-steps have resulted in real pain for many, many people, primarily through significant job losses.

Second, that the new team has to quickly catch the proverbial falling knife, stabilize a rickety ship and sort out a compelling strategy from the ruins of a woefully misguided one.

Third, that the job of the new team will be even tougher than the one Johnson assumed.

So let’s get the jokes, the gloating and the schadenfreude out of our system. There is important work to be done.




4 thoughts on “JC Penney: Gloat edition

  1. Another great post! As someone in Kool-aid Rehab (http://kool-aidrehab.com ). I laughed at your reference to how you’re and ‘Ego Addict in Recovery’. 😉 not hardly, you were spot-on from the beginning and if JCP had even one person with your insight on this debacle it would not have had such a miserable outcome. Your background earned you the right to comment – Now they really have a hard job in front of them- Thanks, Steve –
    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

    1. Sadly there were a number of us who had that same insight. Im one of the few that survived. People I’ve worked with for 20+ years, are still looking for employment. Its tough when you have a mortgage payment and 2 kids in college with no income. For those who stubbornly questioned his rollout plan…. well they are paying a very big price.

      Thanks for nothing Ron.

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