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Braving the tides of a shifting retail industry

My latest regular column for The Globe & Mail published over the weekend in their Saturday edition.  It was inspired by two significant, yet polar opposite, events that occurred just recently in Canada’s retail industry.  The impending closure of a Canadian institution, Sears, contrasted with the almost-manic expansion of the online retailer, Amazon.

Braving the tides of a shifting retail industry

In What it takes to thrive in a shifting retail industry, I’ve compared Sears to Amazon, emphasizing that traditional retail is being replaced by options that promote less interaction with people and more interaction with systems.  This past weekend was Grey Cup weekend in Canada (Canadian football, for my non-Canadian readers).  So I’ve used the evolution of the quarterback as a metaphor for the shift in the retail industry.

Would love to hear what you think!

As always, I would love to hear your perspectives.  What do you think is the future of retail as we see it today?  What are the skills needed to adapt and thrive in the changing retail landscape?  You can either add your comments directly at The Globe’s site, or post your response here on the blog.

Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, we will shortly be archiving a pdf version on the website at this link.

P.S. I’d like to gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of Jeff Sharpe, a leader in one of my client organizations, who gave me invaluable assistance in getting the football metaphor right.  Those of you who know me well are fully aware that my in-depth knowledge of sports is limited 🙂 , so I am very appreciative of Jeff’s help.

Does Amazon have the right corporate culture?

CanadianHRReporter_9-21-2015My column Amazon’s leadership forgot that ‘how’ is as important as ‘what’ in The Globe & Mail‘s Weekend Commentary & Analysis section prompted writer Sarah Dobson from the Canadian HR Reporter to reach out to me for an article she was writing about Amazon’s recent notoriety for their “toxic” corporate culture.

Here is a link to her piece that ran in the September 21st print and online editions: ‘Bruising workplace’ stirs up debate. In this article, Sarah speaks to four leadership experts (including yours truly) to get a greater insight into whether or not Amazon is doing the right thing. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, then you know my opinion on the subject (they’re not!), but I encourage you to read her article to get a variety of different perspectives. And then come on back here and let me know what you think. Is Amazon taking the right approach with its tough culture?

P.S. Occasionally your access to the direct link to my article at The Globe‘s site may be restricted; if that happens, you can also download the pdf version here:

Who’s leading your organization? You or your “system”?

So a few weeks ago I tried to make a purchase at; “tried” being the operative word.

I went online, selected a gift for a friend who lives in California, paid using a credit card, and received email notification that my order was in progress.  A couple of days later, I checked online to see the order status, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that the order had been cancelled!  What?!  No notification, just cancelled!  It was late at night, so I fired off a note to’s customer service department asking “What gives?”   Got an email back the next day with a cryptic message that my order was cancelled because the billing information I entered did not match what my credit card issuer had on file for me.  Huh? Continue reading