January 9, 2014  /  Larry Hirschhorn

Larry Hirschhorn, Principal, has written a new blog post on the dilemmas and challenges facing Sears Holding, the department store chain that includes both Sears-Roebuck and Kmart. The post begins with a journalist’s report which  describes organizational chaos at Sears, the result of the CEO’s radical restructuring of the company into 30 separate businesses each with its own board and financial reports. The journalist suggests that the chaos is due to debilitating competition between the different business units. The blog poses the question of whether or not the CEO, Eddie Lampert, the owner of a very successful hedge fund, is simply an “asset stripper.” If true, we could interpret his restructuring as prelude to selling off parts of the company at prices that can be justified in the marketplace.

Larry suggests however that we can learn something about the impulses behind his restructuring if we consider his character.This could help explain why he does not understand the chaos and anguish he has created even if his organization design is a rational response to the business dilemmas he faces. This may be a case in which a person’s character, whatever its limitations, is consonant with the demands and requirement of his context. The blog concludes with a question. If the networked world is our future and organizations are no longer emotionally containing, what countervailing trends exist that sustain feelings of solidarity and friendship?

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