By retail analyst Rob Lake



On the ABC’s 7.30 Report last Thursday, Emma Alberici said: “In
an indictment of Coles Myer decision-making, observers say instead of
looking outside for a boss, the real answer was right under their
noses. Mark McInnes built the successful Office Works empire for Coles
Myer before being head-hunted by David Jones.” And in Friday’s Crikey,
Stephen Mayne quotes the report and lists some other executives who got
away. Are there are early signs of a rising urban myth here?

While there is little doubt that Mark McInnes did a fantastic job at
Officeworks, it is unfair to describe him as the builder of the
business.

Stephen
Goddard, the current finance director at David Jones, is more likely
the hero. Goddard built the team and led the creation of a culture that
underpinned the success of the new business. The early team he
assembled was by and large an outstanding group. However, his smartest
move was to not locate the new business at Coles Myer’s Tooronga HQ,
Battlestar Galactica, allowing for the creation of a different culture.

He
moved to an awful building in Richmond, formerly the home of Cussons
(soap), still with the perfume drifting up from the dodgy floorboards.
The whole team sat in a vast open plan area, desks pushed together in
groups of four. The nascent culture was very different from anything
that might have been possible at Tooronga. Everyone felt they could
constantly challenge and question – including challenging the boss.

There was a feeling that they would never achieve perfection and
Officeworks would always be a work in progress. Accountabilities were
pushed down very hard, right down to the shop floor. People were
developed and trained. Everyone had a shared vision of what might be
achieved rather than a list of tasks they were to perform.

Read more on the website.

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Peter Fray
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