Wal Mart Turnaroud



Sam Walton, a leader with an innovative vision, started his own company and
made it into the leader in discount retailing that it is today. Through his savvy,
and sometimes unusual, business practices, he and his associates led the
company forward for thirty years. Today, four years after his death, the
company is still growing steadily. Wal-Mart executives continue to rely on
many of the traditional goals and philosophies that Sam\'s legacy left behind,
while simultaneously keeping one step ahead of the ever-changing technology
and methods of today\'s fast-paced business environment. The organization
has faced, and is still facing, a significant amount of controversy over several
different issues; however, none of these have done much more than scrape
the exterior of this gigantic operation. The future also looks bright for
Wal-Mart, especially if it is able to strike a comfortable balance between
increasing its profits and recognizing its social and ethical responsibilities.
Why is Wal-Mart so Successful? Is it Good Strategy or Good Strategy
Implementation? -- In 1962, when Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart
store in Rogers, Arkansas, no one could have ever predicted the enormous
success this small-town merchant would have. Sam Walton\'s talent for
discounts retailing not only made Wal-Mart the world\'s largest retailer, but
also the world\'s number one retailer in sales. Indeed, Wal-Mart was named
"Retailer of the Decade" by Discount Store News in 1989, and on several
occasions has been included in Fortune\'s list of the "10 most admired
corporations." Even with Walton\'s death (after a two-year battle with bone
cancer) in 1992, Wal-Mart\'s sales continue to grow significantly. Wal-Mart is
successful not only because it makes sound strategic management decisions,
but also for its innovative implementation of those strategic decisions.
Regarded by many as the entrepreneur of the century, Walton had a
reputation for caring about his customers, his employees (or "associates" as
he referred to them), and the community. In order to maintain its market
position in the discount retail business, Wal-Mart executives continue to
adhere to the management guidelines Sam developed. Walton was a man of
simple tastes and took a keen interest in people. He believed in three guiding
principles: 1. Customer value and service; 2. Partnership with its associates;
3. Community involvement (The Story of Wal-Mart, 1995). The word
"always" can be seen in virtually all of Wal-Mart\'s literature. One of Walton\'s
deepest beliefs was that the customer is always right, and his stores are still
driven by this philosophy. When questioned about Wal-Mart\'s secrets of
success, Walton has been quoted as saying, "It has to do with our desire to
exceed our customers\' expectations every hour of every day" (Wal-Mart
Annual Report, 1994, p. 5). Walton\'s greatest accomplishment was his ability
to empower, enrich, and train his employees (Longo, 1994). He believed in
listening to employees and challenging them to come up with ideas and
suggestions to make the company better. At each of the Wal-Mart stores,
signs are displayed which read; "Our People Make the Difference."
Associates regularly make suggestions for cutting costs through their "Yes
We Can Sam" program. The sum of the savings generated by the associates
actually paid for the construction of a new store in Texas (The story of
Wal-Mart, 1995). One of Wal-Mart\'s goals was to provide its employees
with the appropriate tools to do their jobs efficiently. The technology was not
used as a means of replacing existing employees, but to provide them with a
means to succeed in the retail market (Thompson & Strickland, 1995).
Wal-Mart\'s popularity can be linked to its hometown identity. Walton
believed that every customer should be greeted upon entering a store, and
that each store should be a reflection of the values of its customers and its
community. Wal-Mart is involved in many community outreach programs and
has launched several national efforts through industrial development grants.
What are the Key Features of Wal-Mart\'s Approach to Implementing the
Strategy Put Together by Sam Walton -- The key features of Wal-Mart\'s
approach to implementing the strategy put together by Sam Walton
emphasizes building solid working relationships with both suppliers and
employees, being aware and taking notice of the most intricate details in store
layouts and merchandising techniques, capitalizing on every cost saving
opportunity, and creating