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George Zimmer, Men's Warehouse, Lucavia Consulting

Have you played the game where you ask your friends, “If you could only have three ‘albums’ on a desert island what would they be?” We’re so used to having nearly unlimited variety that narrowing down our favorite music, is a strange mixture of fun and irritation. (Today’s answer: Bob Dylan, Biograph; Jovanotti, L’Albero; and The Beatles, Beatles VI.)

With business news all around us everyday, I think it would also be fun, and instructive, to think, “Out of all the management practices we know, which three are the most fundamental?” Of course, there’s probably no single right answer but I’ll argue for these:

  • Know your purpose.
  • Know vision.
  • Constantly communicate these to your customers, team, and partners.

Reading the news about George Zimmer leaving Men’s Warehouse didn’t seem very interesting at first glance. I’m not a customer and their easily recognizable ad campaign (“I guarantee it”) didn’t move me. Their stock is near its 52-week high, revenue and net income are up, and even the category is coming out of its slump. So what’s up? The speculation is that Zimmer, 64, had a tough time letting go of power after relinquishing his role as CEO in 2011.

Then I read this, “Over the last 40 years, I have built Men’s Warehouse into…a company with amazing employees and loyal customers who value the products and services they receive…” Zimmer was noted for his colorful personality and his progressive values, e.g., putting Deepak Chopra on the Board, backing recreational marijuana use, and refusing to do background checks on employees stating, “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

With these clear indications of Zimmer’s impact on company culture, it’s incumbent on the Board to get past the veneer of how to update their advertising campaign and get to: What does this key personnel change mean for our purpose, our vision, and how we communicate these to our customers, team, and partners?


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