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JC Penney CEO fired in uproar over his “management practices”

jcp02_It isn’t just Scientology Inc that messes up its culture with crappy management and lousy management practices. In the case of other organizations, though, they have ways of correcting the problem. Even if it involves removing the person most directly responsible for imposing the poor practices and ignoring the stats.

I caught this article in The Huffington Post about the JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson getting canned after only seventeen months on the job.

More than merely an annoyance for J.C. Penney’s employees, Johnson’s mercurial pricing strategy goes down as one of his biggest blunders at the helm of the company he was supposed to resuscitate. It was a primary reason the J.C. Penney board ousted him less than 17 months into his tenure, concluding he was out of touch with the company’s customers, its workforce and its culture.

Apparently, the former Apple executive threw the whole corporation into an uproar when he decided to run company-wide experiments based on “hunches”.

Those experiments forced the employees to work countless extra hours implementing the “hunch of the week”.

According to the article, most of the “hunches” had to do with inane unproven and unprovable nitpicky things like the color of certain items on the in-store signage. Like making the “compare to” pricing in a gray so pale it couldn’t be read by most Penney shoppers.

And instead of piloting the hunches in a limited geographic area, he turned every store in the company into a laboratory for testing and implementing the hunches.

In fact, J.C. Penney made a conscious decision to avoid extensive testing. One executive, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal on the condition he not be named, recalled Johnson’s derisive reaction when it was suggested that he ought to test the no-discounts pricing strategy in a few stores before unleashing it in 1,100 stores across America.

“We didn’t test at Apple,” the executive heard Johnson say, referring to his former employer.

(Even though Apple has done better in recent years, it still non-trivially lags behind he IBM-compatible market. And there’s so many cellphone companies that every month is a new challenge to iPhone dominance. “No testing at Apple” might not be the best route to success, a lesson that the former Penney CEO apparently couldn’t learn. The presence of Steve Jobs may eventually prove to be the reason that “no testing at Apple” was kind of workable.)

In the case that broke the camel’s back, the entire chain had to re-price and re-label entire stocks in a single week.

In the last week of January, J.C. Penney’s management team set a deadline for its stores: by Feb. 1, stores would have to re-ticket and re-sign their merchandise. No one had “the guts” to tell Johnson or corporate that it wasn’t possible in that timeframe, a J.C. Penney regional executive, who asked to remain anonymous, told HuffPost. The hurried employees screwed up, and the results were disastrous.

I recommend you read the whole story.

Because it goes right to the heart of what Miscavige has been doing wrong with Scientology.

“Because I said so”

Penney’s Ron Johnson’s management style sounds very similar to Miscavige’s.

Flying in the face of conventional thinking, Johnson didn’t partition off geographical areas for surveying and testing.

He made wholesale changes in the corporate culture and retail technology based on his know best*.

Even a simple act like getting rid of coupons alienated the core of Penney’s customer base.

Stats crashed.

And the board of Penney let Johnson continue to run roughshod over their operation…and profits…for seventeen months…without successfully pulling the reins in on him.

It sounds remarkably similar to the giant old freakin’ failure of Miscavige’s schemes.

When an organization depends on customer goodwill for its wherewithal, apparently “’cuz I said so” is the operating basis furthest from success.

This is why I lament the loss of survey tech in the church.

And it’s why the Ideal Org “program” is a series of ineffective mid-course corrections, one after another.

Miscavige has one thing that JC Penney doesn’t have.

He has 501(c)(3) tax exemption status.

Eventually draining parishioners dry without showing the parishioners real stats will cease to be effective. And even the donations will cease to flow.

In the meantime, JC Penney seems to have recognized its error and is now running its own brand of conditions on the situation.

“It’s no secret. Recently, J.C. Penney changed. Some changes you liked, and some you didn’t,” said the voiceover in the ad. “But what matters with mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing: to listen to you. To hear what you need to make your life more beautiful. Come back to J.C. Penney. We heard you. Now, we’d love to see you.”

What worked at Apple won’t work at JC Penney, probably for the simple reason that Apple’s culture and success were based on a guy named Steve Jobs. And that the Apple culture was built on people who bought into Jobs’ vision.

Scientology was originally built on people who bought into what they knew of Hubbard’s vision. Violating the Power Change formula is finally coming back to bite Miscavige in the ass.

— written by Plain Old Thetan

*know best: a technical and admin term. In tech it refers to an auditor who is misapplying a process on a pc considers he knows more than is contained in the technical bulletins on the subject and uses this “know best” as a basis for altering technical procedure. In admin it refers similarly to a person who considers he has a better way of accomplishing something than is contained in the policy letters covering that subject and messes things up. Management then finds itself left with the task of correcting that person’s goofs by applying the correct standard policy to the area. In English, it is a derogatory term meaning the person is pretending to know while actually being stupid. (LRH Def. notes)

Update 18 August 2013

Apparently the writing on the wall started to come into focus a little better for JC Penney this week, when Penney lost two major investors.

This what happens when an organization, like the church of Scientology, lets its management run on autopilot without observable, tangible results.

It starts eating itself from within.

Maybe Davey will do the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics and get out while the gettin’s good.

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4 Comments

dan351  on May 3rd, 2013

Page 104 “Intro To Scientology Ethics”.
The formula for non-existence is;

1.Find a comm line.
2.Make yourself known.
3.Discover what is needed or wanted.
4.Do, produce and/or present it.

DM’s version of this has always been.
1. Find a comm line.
2. Make himself known.
3.Tell staff/public what he needs and wants.
4.Demand and force them to do, produce and/or present what dm personally wants.

Failing to do the condition that one is actually in drops that person to the next lower condition.

That is why dm has actually been in treason or enemy to Scientology for some time.

PlainOldThetan  on May 3rd, 2013

The DM alteration of the non-e formula is the one fascists always use.

I would suggest that DM’s version of non-e also has
2a. Find out what’s needed and wanted.
2b. Ignore it.

And, according to LRH in HCO PL DEV-T SUMMARY LIST the following are the things DM does to increase noise and unnecessary traffic:

1. FALSE REPORTS
4. NO REPORTS
5. COMM FORMULA UNUSED
6. INFO FAILURE
8. SUPPRESSION ON LINES
9. CROSS ORDERS
10. PT ORDERS ONLY (“command intention”)
11. NONEXISTENT TARGETING
12. UNREAL TARGETS
13. CROSS TARGETS
14. BUGGED TARGETS
15. HOBBY HORSES (!)
18. INCORRECT CONDITIONS.
21. VIOLATED PURPOSE
23. INCORRECT ORGANIZATION
26. ORG BOARD DEV-T
27. UNTRAINED STAFF
30. HAVING TO HAVE BEFORE THEY CAN DO
32. LACK OF EXECUTIVE RESPONSIBILITY
34. USING DEV-T AS AN EXCUSE TO CUT LINES
35. CATASTROPHES

and, in DM’s case, the big point you’re talking about is

17. FORMULA EVASION

If he recognized what the stats say and ran the formulas by the books, he wouldn’t promote falsehoods five or six times a year at an Int Event. What’s wanted is NOT theetie-weetie, blow-smoke-up-your-ass falsified stats and fabricated “good news”.

I believe that Scientologists are grown-ups who want the truth. And if presented with bad news (the Ideal Orgs aren’t making as many Clears as we’d planned for) they’d be willing to tighten their belts and work harder IF THEY SAW THAT MANAGEMENT WAS RUNNING THE RIGHT CONDITIONS.

Sigh.

samutom  on May 3rd, 2013

Actually the problem is that DM has no board to answer to with any decision he makes. It doesn’t matter how many times he violates the simple rules in pr and marketing, he will never be accountable.

Why doesn’t the COS have a board? Every other religion on the world has one.

Bruce Pratt  on May 4th, 2013

Miscavige may have 2 more things, at least for now, Penney lacks.
1) First Amendment protection.
2) More lawyers, especially of the morally ambiguous species.

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