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  • Too Bold? Or Not Bold Enough?
  • When an executive is charged with revitalizing the business, we often hear how bold their new strategy will be. Or, we may hear that the company will be taking more and bigger risks as part of their bold new strategy. The favored image for executives brought in to revitalize seems to be one of boldness and risk taking. This seems to be the case despite the fact that high risk does not lead to high reward; prudent risk does. And, too much boldness can easily backfire if it ends up entailing too many changes that are not well suited for the business.

    A recent Wall Street Journal article provides an example of the emphasis upon boldness when an executive is charged with revitalizing the business. The article ran in the March 2-3, 2024 issue and was titled “Can He Make Shopping at Macy’s Fun Again?” and was written by Suzanne Kapner. The article reports that Macy’s new chief executive, Tony Spring plans to revitalize the business. It said that he “unveiled his vision for modernizing the department store chain earlier this week.”

    According to the article, “Macy’s new strategy (is) dubbed ‘A Bold New Chapter’. Yet, the article reports that an investor, who believes Macy’s needs to do a better job with its real estate, said “Calling something bold doesn’t make it so.”

    In my view, what seems to be going on here is the turnaround executive is taking the classic boldness approach. He is going for the imagery of boldness. At the same time, the investor seems to think the so called bold strategy is not all that bold, and perhaps not bold enough. I think it is unfortunate that new CEOs charged with revitalization get wrapped up in a battle of boldness. From what the article reported, it seemed like things the new CEO plans for Macy’s are at least on the right track.

    The issue of how much boldness is appropriate depends upon the nature of the bold steps taken. If the so called bold steps are a good fit for the business, then they can lead to improved results. But, doing bold things just for the sale of boldness, even if they don’t really fit the business, can end up making things worse. So, we’ll have to see whether Macy’s goes for the right kind of boldness.

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