Thursday, January 21, 2010


Ten management lessons from Tesco’s CEO
By Megan Conniff | Published: January 12, 2010

This entry was posted in Education, Events, Retail Companies, Retail TrendsIn his opening comments at today’s Super Session, Sir Terry Leahy referenced Napoleon Bonaparte’s infamous quote “Britain is a nation of shopkeepers.” Although the comment wasn’t originally intended as a compliment, Britain has indeed become a nation of shopkeepers, with Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s experiencing their heydays in the early 1990s. Since then, Tesco has shot to prominence in the U.K. and around the world. This morning, Leahy, who became the retailer’s CEO in 1997 and has earned a bevy of accolades, offered his top 10 management lessons:

Find the truth:

Don’t just rely on research or past experience. Find out where your company stands now by talking directly to the customer. They will be honest about what’s good and bad about your business.

Audacious goals:

These can galvanize your organization. Tesco’s audacious goals included being the No. 1 retail choice for UK customers, being as strong in nonfood as it it in food, becoming a leader in global retailing and inventing retail services.

Vision, values and culture:

These matter more than any plans, strategies or marketing tactics. Your staff can help you learn what your company’s values should be.

Follow the customer:

You’re not going to be able to guess what the customer wants. Therefore, you need to stay close to them, observe them and be prepared when you see a change.

The Steering Wheel:

How do you relate big-picture ideas to what your staff, at all levels, works on every day? Tesco has focused on setting specific measures for customers, community, operations, people and finance. Everyone in each part of the circle knows how they relate to the company’s overall strategies.

People, process, systems:

This is the process of transforming your plans into the customer experience.

Lean thinking:

Leahy read about how Toyota cleaned up its manufacturing process, and used it as a model for how to make Tesco’s business leaner.

Simple beats complex:

Develop a culture of simplicity. Communications was one of Leahy’s examples. Tesco turned to the newspaper industry to better understand how to communicate simply.

Competition is good:

Learn from your competitors and don’t focus on their faults. Focus on their strengths.

Leahy’s favorite definition of this word: A leader takes you further than you would go on your own.

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