CEO as Change Agent

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN052
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 2000-2007
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Miller Brewing Company; JCPenney Corporation, Inc.; Whirlpool Corporation
Industry : Beverage; Retail; Electricals & Electronics
Countries : Europe, USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Caselet 2: Myron E Ullman and JCpenney

“If I had a choice to honor the past and lose, or move forward and win, I pick winning.”17

- Myron E (Mike) Ullman III, Chairman and CEO, JC Penney Corporation, Inc., in 2006.

“Changing the mindset and culture of the employees ALWAYS has to come from the top. And the Penney's CEO lived this difficult task every day. He showed his direct reports, middle management, and store operations how important it was to everyone at J.C. Penney. He showed it by his daily activities, and reinforced it through visual tasks and direction!”18

– Stephan G. Kouzomis, Faculty and Staff Member, University of Louisville's College of Business, in 2007.

In the late 1990s, there was stiff competition in the US retail market. JCPenney Corporation, Inc.19 (JCP) had to face strong competitors in the form of giant discount retail chain Wal-Mart on the one side, and from mall-based players like Dillards on the other. JCP, which had more than 90 years history behind it got into trouble but a dramatic turnaround was effected at the company between 1999 and 2004. It was against this backdrop, that Myron E Ullman III (Ullman) joined JCP as chairman and CEO in December 2004. He was chosen ahead of other contenders due to his “superior record of success in retailing, and has demonstrated his effectiveness as a leader during his time at Macy's, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and the DFS Group (Duty Free Shoppers).”20

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

Shortly after joining as chairman and CEO of JCP, in December 2004, Ullman unveiled a 'Long Term Plan'with the focus on taking JCP to industry leadership level.21 One of the strategies to achieve this objective was to make JCP a great place to work in. Ullman felt that there was a “correlation between engaged associates and store profitability.”22 , 23, He understood that to achieve his ambitious objectives, he had to make JCP a great place to work in. Ullman explained, “The associates are the first customers we sell. If it doesn't ring true to them, it's impossible to communicate and inspire the customer.”24 ...

Caselet 3: David R. Whitwam and Whirlpool - Next Page>>

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17]  Ellen Byron, “'Call Me Mike!',”, April 3, 2006.

18] George Anderson, “Penney CEO Fixed What Might Have Broken,”, February 12, 2007.

19] JC Penney, headquartered at Plano, Texas, USA, is a chain of department stores. It operated more than one thousand stores in the US and Puerto Rico.

20] “Myron (Mike) Ullman Named Chairman and CEO of JCPenney, Questrom to Step Down after Smooth Transition,”, October 27, 2004.

21] In 2005, Ullman unveiled the 'Long Range Plan'which JCP strove to achieve through a four-pronged strategy: make an emotional connection with the customer; make JCP an easy and exciting place to shop; make JCP a great place to work in; and, make JCP a leader in performance and execution.

22] JCP called its employees associates.

23] “J.C. Penney Q2 2006 Earnings Conference Call Transcript (JCP),”, August 10, 2006.

24] Maria Halkias, “Penney Remakes Culture to Remake Image,”, F#24ebruary 13, 2007.


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