Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 1/1/16

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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 Barnes and Noble, Chipotle, Olive Garden, Axel Springer, and the Amish in the Digital Age.

From Wharton: How Can Barnes & Noble Avoid Borders’ Fate?

“In the wake of declining sales and increasing debt, Barnes & Noble is struggling to deliver growth, increase foot traffic in its stores, sell more digital goods and otherwise race against the clock to find a winning formula before it suffers the same fate as former chief rival Borders.”

From Henry I. Miller: Chipotle: The Long Defeat Of Doing Nothing Well

“The title of this article, which was inspired by a line from poet John Masefield, seems apt: Chipotle, the once-popular Mexican restaurant chain, is experiencing a well-deserved downward spiral. The company found it could pass off a fast-food menu stacked with high-calorie, sodium-rich options as higher quality and more nutritious because the meals were made with locally grown, genetic engineering-free ingredients. And to set the tone for the kind of New Age-y image the company wanted, Chipotle adopted slogans like, ‘We source from farms rather than factories’ and, ‘With every burrito we roll or bowl we fill, we’re working to cultivate a better world.'”

From Sarah Halzack: Surprise: Olive Garden is getting its groove back

“A little more than a year ago, the criticism of Olive Garden was coming as fast and steady as the all-you-can-eat breadsticks at its restaurants.”

From Nicola Clark: An Old-Media Empire, Axel Springer Reboots for the Digital Age

“The German publishing giant has snapped up stakes in online media companies, pivoted its news operations to cater to mobile readers and given its senior managers a crash course in start-up culture.”

From Suzette Parmley: Plain People get online

“With the explosion of online shopping, few can deny the power of the Internet. Not even the Amish and Mennonites, known for being devout to their faith and for shunning technology, electricity, and modern advances that run counter to those beliefs. It raises an intriguing question: Can the Amish and online co-exist?”

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