Friday, May 9, 2014

Eddie Lampert: Turnarounds and Transformations

At Sears Holdings’ annual stockholders meeting this week, we talked a lot about the difference between turnarounds and transformations. I want to share some of those thoughts here. 
Turnarounds happen when a company succeeds again at doing what it had once done successfully before. Transformations are almost entirely different – they occur when companies adapt their business model to fundamental shifts in technology, competitive landscapes, government policies and regulations, or macro trends to serve their customers (or, in our case, members) in new ways. Over the last decade, incidentally, Sears and Kmart have faced all of the challenges I just listed. 
As you might expect, we talked a lot about Sears and Kmart at our annual meeting. But we also took a close look at the transformations of three other companies: Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer), General Dynamics Corporation, and Eastman Kodak Company. I want to be clear that I am in no way saying that Sears Holdings is just like any of these companies, but there are lessons to be learned from them, two that were successful and one that was unsuccessful in their transformations.