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Check Your Strategy by Giving Your Optimism Regular Reality Check-Ups

Mar 15, 2008
Whether or not they shop there, many people admire the success that Wal-Mart has enjoyed in the retailing industry. For many decades the company has grown its number of stores, the sales per store, and the efficiency of its operations at an impressive rate to become the world's largest retailer.

Throughout the time that founder Sam Walton was CEO, much attention was focused on the aggressive goals that he would encourage the company to meet. Walton was famous for not only setting the goals, but also for recognizing his people when they met the goals. In fact, as his payoff on a bet that the goals would not be met during one year, he dressed up in a hula skirt and danced the hula for the amusement of everyone.

Obviously, Walton was an optimistic man. How did he keep his optimism practical and relevant?

What many people don't know about this success story is that Wal-Mart operated one of the most useful corporate air forces in the world. Each Monday, almost every executive left the headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas to visit stores around the world.

The visits continued at a hectic pace (using the private planes to allow more visits to occur) through Friday, when the planes filled with executives returned from the field. Then, the whole executive group met on Friday night or Saturday morning to report what has been learned that week and to devise solutions to be implemented when they returned to the field on Monday.

Wal-Mart people were justifiably optimistic about the future of their company, and one reason for their optimism is that they were never more than a week away from addressing any irresistible force that they found affecting their operations. And they avoided succumbing to overoptimism.

You can do the same thing by checking with customers, users, suppliers, partners, distributors, and other stakeholders on a weekly basis to find out where your optimism is well founded and where you need to make improvements. Naturally, you can't do this all by yourself. Get help.

In addition, you'll find that polices can be an assistance. Encourage everyone to find problems and to try solutions that they share with everyone else who is affected. One way to do this is to tell customers that if they have a problem they don't pay. Those notices of nonpayment will get everyone's attention.

From these close examinations, you'll also identify what needs to be done to achieve the kind of rapid growth you would like to enjoy. Then, look for even better ways to foster profitable growth.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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