Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 10/28/16

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about Amazon, Lacoste, Ford, Chipotle, and Mighty Handle.

From Julian Birkinshaw and Kathy Brewis: Amazon: a master of reinvention

“The online retail giant has innovated continuously since its creation in 1995. And if that means causing damage to existing business? Do it anyway.”

From Phil Wahba: How Lacoste fixed its sportswear brand

“Today, however, Lacoste is perking up again under its CEO of nearly two years, Thierry Guibert. Lacoste, owned by the Swiss holding group Maus Frères, has seen global sales rise to 1.95 billion euros in 2015 ($2.15 billion) from 1.4 billion euros in 2010. And while the privately-held company won’t disclose sales data for the U.S., its biggest market, or even global data for the other years in that period, Guibert tells Fortune that Lacoste’s stores are now posting comparable sales increases in the United States.”

Wally’s Comment: This story reminded me of a Halloween in the heyday of Lacoste when a trick-or-treater appeared at my door in an alligator costume with a little human on the left breast. It was worth a double shot of candy.

From Christina Rogers: CEO Mark Fields Sets Ford on a Dual Track

“Now, as the auto industry braces for the rise of electric and self-driving vehicles, Mr. Mulally’s successor, Mark Fields, is pivoting toward Two Fords, recasting the company as an auto maker and a transportation-services provider.”

From Austin Carr: Chipotle Eats Itself

“I spent seven months following the company’s efforts at recovery. The journey took me from rural farms to industrial kitchens, from the hotbeds of Chipotle’s outbreaks in Massachusetts to its fan festival in Arizona, from a summit of food-safety experts in Illinois to the company’s corporate offices in Colorado and New York. I talked to scores of restaurant employees—and I ate more burritos than I can count (never once getting sick). I interviewed the co-CEOs, other top executives, current and former employees, suppliers, and food-industry partners, and I reviewed more than 1,000 pages of internal documents. The story that emerges from all this is provocative and unexpected, a tale of optimism, hubris, bad luck, and missed opportunity.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

From Bobby Burch: How the Mighty Handle evolved from an idea to a hit product

“Not all innovation is high tech. And while the development of any particular technology is distinct, there remain consistent principles of how to bring a product or service to market. From paper clips to apps for augmented reality, it pays to do one’s homework.”

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