Kmart’s Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Tainted an American Icon
by Marcia Layton Turner
Here’s another book that was begging to be written. It probably would have surfaced much earlier if not for the fear of many authors that publishing too soon would result in the omission of who knows how many future bewildering tactics by the forever transforming retail giant, Kmart. Actually, contrary to my early assumption, this book is less an indictment of Kmart than it is a combination of warnings and lessons to everyone else. There are so many negative examples in the news today of how NOT to succeed in business. However, many organizations fail to acknowledge or learn from these examples.
This book was written for those of you who find yourselves wondering how a company with such bright prospects could end up filing for bankruptcy. How could a brand as widely recognized and firmly fixed in our cultural lexicon as Kmart be teetering on the brink of extinction? Depending on whom you talk to, Kmart’s fall from grace can be attributed to any number of factors. In the first in-depth examination of Kmart, author Marcia Layton Turner reveals the real reason behind Kmart’s troubles—bad management—and discusses how the large personalities and even larger dreams of Kmart’s misguided leaders played a significant role in transforming this once profitable retail titan into a bankrupt behemoth.
This is not a collection of the author’s personal opinions as to why the once mighty Kmart is now frantically treading the tumultuous retail waters. Marcia Layton Turner interviewed many financial analysts, former employees, and industry observers to get the inside scoop on what happened at Kmart. She coupled her research findings with in-depth studies of SEC filings, news reports, and background data to paint a very clear picture of exactly how Kmart management’s thinking emerged as well as what went on behind the scenes and why.
Weaving corporate history with financial analysis and expert commentary, this engaging book identifies and examines the ten management mistakes, which ultimately brought Kmart to its knees. It spins an intriguing tale of the missteps of a retail giant that once had the industry in the palm of its hand and foolishly let it all slip away. Readers will achieve a better sense of where Kmart has been and what its potential is for a turnaround. This first in-depth examination of Kmart clearly identifies and discusses the ten miscalculations Kmart’s CEOs have repeatedly made, including resisting investments in technology, brand mismanagement, and haphazard expansion, to name a few.
This book is a well-written comparative analysis of why Kmart failed and Wal-Mart continues to thrive. The management lessons found in the book can be widely applied and should be shared with and discussed among any leadership team members interested in continued growth and success.
(This book review was originally published in 2003 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 12.)