2 - Always Grow

Expect Great Things


In session one of this course, Don Soderquist outlined the importance and impact of vision and culture within a community. In this second part, we will look at the importance of always improving. Listen as Don describes what set Walmart apart from its competition: they dared to do things differently.




As a company, Walmart always swam up stream. Governed by their culture of values, the leadership sought to pioneer new and effective ways to grow in the retail industry. They alway sought to improve on their success, and were never satisfied with the status quo.


What does the status quo look like in your business? What does dynamic improvement look like?
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What would prevent you as a leader from pushing your company to improve? How has your company shown improvement in the last year? In the last month?
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Despite the wild success Walmart enjoyed when he took the job as COO, Don still pushed his people and his company to do better. He always set high expectations for what his people could accomplish, and sometimes those goals seemed extravagant. He shares a story in this video of what that looked like.




Don points out that leaders often fail to set high enough expectations for their people. He admits that all goals should be realistic, but they should still push the people of the business to strive for improvement. In his story, Don set a goal that seemed unreasonable at first, but when the team achieved it, it inspired them to even greater feats. 

Do you set high expectations for your people? If not, why not? If so, what has happened in response to those expectations?
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What expectations do you set for yourself? How do your personal expectations affect your expectations for your people?
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Don pointed out that the only way high expectations result in excellent work is if the leader commits to empowering his or her people to actually reach those expectations. In his story, he committed the staff, finances, space, computers, and time necessary for his Recovery Team to meet their lofty goal. Because the team knew Don would do what they needed to meet the expectation he set, they felt confident in pursuing a high goal.


Describe a time where you were unable to meet an expectation because the leader refused to help in the process. How did that affect your view of the leader?
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Don stood by his promise to help his people, and it made all the difference. What do you think your teams could accomplish if you committed the resources and energy necessary to equip them to succeed?
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What is one way you can empower your people today to meet the expectations they work toward?
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High expectations push people to grow, to improve, and to innovate. But as a leader, you must be prepared to equip your people to meet those lofty goals. As you look at your own leadership and company, chase opportunities to empower you people to succeed, and celebrate when they do.


 
Always Improve


While it’s important to push employees to continue improving, it’s equally crucial to chase opportunities to improve as a company. Don learned from Sam Walton the importance of learning from others how to improve as a business.



What was different between Don’s perspective of their competition and Sam’s perspective? Which perspective produced better results for the company?
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Which of the two perspectives do you gravitate toward? Which do you think is the better attitude to have? What would it look like in your company to emphasize learning from others?
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In this next video, Don tells another story of how he and Sam learned from others. Listen carefully for the kind of attitude they had as they approached a different business’s practices.



Don and Sam had the humility to admit that another, smaller company did something better than they did. Do you see this kind of humility in your business? Why or why not?
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For Walmart, something as simple as name tags had a profound impact on the culture of the company. What is one small thing you can improve in the next week that may help to change the environment for you workers?
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In this last story, Don relays a conversation between himself and Harry Cunningham, the retired CEO of K-Mart. Harry had pioneered the big-box store model that Walmart adopted, but Harry credits Walmart with the real success.  


Both Walmart and K-Mart used the same store model. According to Don, what differentiated the two in the way they approached business?
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Why was continued improvement so important to Walmart’s success?
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The humility to admit that we as leaders and our companies have room to improve is a powerful tool in succeeding as a business. Don reinforces over and over that Walmart was never perfect and always learning. As you lead your people, embrace the process of learning and finding new ways to improve, and always seek to learn.