business news in context, analysis with attitude

One MNB user wrote:

I would like to respond to your readers’ Supervalu views from yesterday.

First and foremost I applaud the first MNB user how he or she continues to have confidence and pride in the company.  I was a long term employee who left last year and continue to follow the company closely and the many friends and co-workers still there.  I agree with the assessment that the tough decisions must be and are being made in addition to the multiple other ones that accommodate them.  I am glad that you believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  You are either more informed than most I know still in or formerly in the company or the Kool Aid is tasting better than I did when I and many others were there.  But I truly hope that things are turning for Supervalu, I really do.

I would like to take offense at your statement that those of us who have left ‘didn’t seem to be able to do the work to fix it (issues, sales, downward slide, etc.) either’.  And also in the statement that Supervalu has done ‘a good job of ensuring the top talent was retained'.  To the first point: have you not seen the hundreds of extremely talented, experienced and passionate people who have left over the last 3-4 years?  Did they not meet your Talent Quotient?  What about the thousands who have left due to downsizing or on their own accord that gave it their all but tired of dealing with ineffective systems, policies and ever-changing programs?  And those ‘sub-top talent’ folks you reference are now creating value for your competitors and suppliers.  And what about those still in the company who are effectively non-effective because they are over-whelmed, over-worked  and their main focus is to stay employed while they actively look for other employment?

I too believe that CEO Craig Herkert is trying to do all that he can to turn it around, trying to be the merchandiser coach (caught in the weeds) and being the visionary leader (in the air).  He may have experience and success in a very well-run and structured organization like Wal-Mart but he has not been able to turn a chaotic, ‘legacy Albertsons vs. heritage Supervalu’, ‘head office vs. banner’ mentality into a successful operation as of yet.

The third MNB user states that it is matter of Albertsons' faulty ways and people that have caused Supervalu to falter.   I also applaud your pride in Supervalu and the way they were successful prior to the acquisition of Albertsons – they were a success story just as Albertsons was prior to their American Stores acquisition and American Stores was prior to their many acquisitions.  In both of these cases (and in many other merger/acquisition cases throughout history) when one company purchases the other company the original company loses it separate identity and those companies become one regardless how successful either was before.  It is up to the purchasing /acquiring company leaders or a combined, unified leadership to provide the direction and ‘best practices’ going forward and to make the two companies one successful, cohesive new entity.  Or make changes to create new best practices to move them to a higher point than what was before.  The former companies cease to exist and it is up to the leaders (regardless of their past allegiances) to merge the teams into a stronger unit than the two companies were before.  And it is up to the leadership to create a framework and example of teamwork and common purpose and eliminate the mentality of us and them.

To blame Albertsons for all problems the company has had and is currently having is very short-sighted and more importantly incorrect.   If you haven’t noticed, there are very few old Supervalu or Albertsons upper management decision makers left but yet the results are still the same.

I too hope that what made Supervalu (and Albertsons and American Stores) great can be unearthed and change the game.  As each month and year passes more of the long term and committed employees are gone and so is the drive, commitment and passion that it takes to fuel the engine of change.   Time will tell, I would love for Supervalu to be another great American Success Story once again.  The story of Supervalu will be a case study in many business publications and university courses, either with a positive or a negative outcome; I am hoping former.

I wrote yesterday about the beginning of baseball’s spring training, and suggested that it is a time when hope springs eternal for everyone...except Mets fans.

Which led MNB user Steve Ritchey to write:

I know  you’re a Mets fan, I’m sorry for the problems the Mets have had the last several years.  Fans of the Mets deserve a competitive  team to root for and feel  proud of. 

Just remember, it can  happen, get the right ownership and management who understand  the game, and it can happen.  Look at the Texas Rangers, stuck in mediocrity for decades, (actually there was a time when mediocrity would have made us ecstatic, that’s how bad we were), now having gone to the World Series twice in a row, and coming within one strike of winning, twice coming within one strike of winning it all.  From top to bottom they have management who understands the game.  I hope the Mets get lucky and  get some owners who can finance a good team and that he puts a management team in place that can put a good team on the field, their fans deserve it.

Me, too.

Another MNB user suggested that there is another group for which hope may be lost:

People waiting for Pete to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

I would not be part of that group. As far as I am concerned, he gambled on baseball, breaking one of the sport’s sacrosanct rules, and then he lied about it. And continued to lie about it.

I know he was a great player, and his on-the-field accomplishments deserve to be recognized by the Hall.

But induction? He’d never get my vote. (Nor would Barry Bonds, BTW, or anyone else involved in the steroids scandals.)
KC's View: