Nordstrom’s employee handbook used to be presented on a single 5 x 8 card:
Welcome to Nordstrom
We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. So our employee handbook is very simple.
We have only one rule: Use good judgment in all situations.
Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.
That is no longer the case, however, as they have become more like everyone else. Simple ideas like this only work within the right context. Taking such ideas and applying them to an organization that isn’t ready will backfire. But if you build a culture where trust, respect, customer service and responsibility are encouraged lots of rules just get in the way of people doing their best. If you can’t trust employees to do their jobs, the problem is with the system you have that results in that, not the people you can’t trust.
We’ve opened 31 stores in 66 days so far this year…now we’re pausing for breath…
However, after opening our first 50, we planned to have a 3 month break from openings, and other than a couple more in Phoenix, we’re taking it (albeit, in our usual fashion, with 59 stores already open).
We’ve learnt a huge amount about running the operation, and talked to thousands of customers about what they like about fresh&easy, and where they’d like us to improve. So we’ve given ourselves a little bit of time to kick the tires, smooth out any wrinkles, and make some improvements that customers have asked for. Of course, improving the operation and the shopping trip is what we do every day.
But the next 3 months will allow us to accelerate this process, before we restart what’s been described as an opening program on steroids.
There have been some rumors in the blogosphere and regular press that the stores are not living up to expectations. Tesco denies this but it is hard to tell if this is typical public relations where disappointments are seen as something to deceive the public about, or the truth. Pausing to access and adjust makes all the sense in the world.
In fact it would seem to me to be the preferred method before 50 are in place. However I can see there might be reasons to expand rapidly too. I think if it were up to me I would try to PDSA with fewer stores first, and then expand but I don’t really know the business so…
Renovating Home Depot [the broken link was removed], Business Week
It is always dangerous to make too much of a magazine article, but Home Depot seems to be moving away from lean thinking in the following examples, to me anyway. The Home Depot founders:
allowed store managers immense autonomy. “Whether it was an aisle, department, or store, you were truly in charge of it,” says former store operations manager…
These days every major decision and goal at Home Depot flows down from Nardelli’s office. “There’s no question; Bob’s the general,” says Joe DeAngelo, 44, executive vice-president of Home Depot Supply and a GE veteran.
Nothing is wrong with major decisions being made by the leaders but the article leaves the impression many non-major decisions are cetralized too. That is a problem for those who believe in management improvement ideas including lean thinking.