AMAZON’S EFFECT ON WHOLE FOODS

Thus far, Amazon has owned Whole Foods for a year now and, for the most part, has made reasoned, effective changes to the organizational structure of the company.  One thing that has not changed, however, is that Whole Foods founder John Mackey remains as the CEO.  This is interesting, given that Mackey had some good years, early on, and some very poor performance years shortly before Amazon bought the company.  So, why leave Mackey on as the CEO, one would wonder.  Mackey has never been strong in placating those in the company who were irritated or disappointed – whether those be customers, workers or suppliers.  Thus, it is no surprise that, in recent months, as changes have been made to the company structure, there have two major changes that have brought irritation and concern: 1 – Increases in the fees that suppliers must pay to have their products on Whole Foods shelves, have angered suppliers – even to the point of some saying that they will no longer stock their supplies at Whole Foods (probably short-sighted – and their loss); and 2 – Layoffs at Whole Foods stores have brought concern to the workers who remain and have caused them to consider unionization as a way of “protecting” their positions (they’d want to check out the track record of unions, in general, before jumping in).   And, what is CEO Mackey doing about all this furor and clamor?  Well, he’s “managing by walking around” (must have read the book and it left an impression!) – he’s spending time in the stores, he’s talking to employees, and he’s “checking out the chain’s operations” – activities that don’t seem to be making a difference.  Big surprise there.  So, note to Jeff Bezos – look to your leadership for another of those “moving parts” that needs to be addressed – ALL THE MOVING PARTS – all those parts need to be working together toward the goal of change and advancement!

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