June 24, 2003
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Wal-Mart Decade
The Wal-Mart Decade: How a New Generation of Leaders Turned Sam Waltons Legacy into the Worlds #1 Company by Robert Slater, Portfolio, 227 Pages, $25.95 Hardcover, June 2003, ISBN 1591840066 Detailing the history of Wal-Mart to its current status, The Wal-Mart Decade actually spans more than a decades time. Robert Slater takes the reader back to the very start of Sam Waltons first retailing days in the 1960s as a Ben Franklin franchise owner whose success quickly brought him to own 16 of the stores in 3 states. Walton championed the idea of selling more items at an everyday low discount price to make more profit. His modest and humble, but aggressive business tactics escalated him to being the leader of the worlds largest retailer: Wal-Mart. Walton was so involved in the company, its creation, its maintenance, that after he died in 1992, many doubted whether Wal-Mart could survive. However, the corporate culture Walton left behind was so rock solid that it has kept the company together, and made it bigger and stronger than ever. Slater details the components of Waltons winning culture structure and shows how the companys executives have stayed true to it, thus making the company the retail giant of the world. Waltons successors had no desire to replicate Sam Waltonthey just wanted to continue his vision and values. CEO David Glass was able to take Waltons vision further by taking more risks and working to expand the company into new foreign markets. He combined the Walton vision with his own global vision, and Wal-Mart doubled its income in four years. Despite many public relations challenges involving the media, the government, and lawsuits, Wal-Mart has stayed on top by learning to be flexible and yielding to change where change was needed. The Wal-Mart Decade is a fascinating read that teaches many leadership lessons through the story of its main characters. Seeing how the big executives at the top of the organization make decisions by not losing sight of the people on all other levels of the company teaches a great deal about modern corporate leadership, integrity, and responsibility.