Corporations walk their talk and kick leaders to the curb

Now that Values are openly displayed on web sites, touted in advertisements, and posted on walls throughout corporate America, discrepancies between Values and behavior are noticed. Lately, it seems corporations are taking notice of their values and are trying to behave consistently.

Whether they like it or not, the web sites, advertisements, and posters are prompting many companies to be All-In.

Consider three current examples:

1. JPMorgan Chase admitted late last week that it experienced a $2 billion loss caused by, in its own words, sloppiness and bad judgment.

One PR model often followed in similar embarrassing, costly circumstances is to deny, downplay, then barely acknowledge and reluctantly fire a few people (a la Goldman Sachs). In response to its exorbitant losses, 

JPMorgan Chase went public before news leaked nationwide, started the CEO apology tour quickly, and accepted resignations or fired people involved. Their behavior is interesting because their Values Statement reads:  Our values are reflected in the way that we conduct our business and in the first-class results that we consistently achieve for our clients.

2. Best Buy's CEO, Brian Dunn, resigned in April for undisclosed personal reasons (All-In blog post). The reasons were disclosed yesterday: he had an extremely close relationship with a female coworker, and it affected the workplace. In light of that disclosure, Best Buy's Chairman resigned yesterday because he knew about the relationship. On its web site, one of Best Buy's values is to "Show respect, humility and integrity." At least in the midst of disrespect and lack of integrity, the company is showing some of both this week.

3. Yahoo's CEO, Scott Thompson, was lambasted the ten days, including here, for lying on his resume for years. When the lie became public ten days ago, the former CEO downplayed the lie and only acknowledged the distraction it had become for the employees. However, others took the lie more seriously. The executive who led the hiring process of Thompson, who began work at Yahoo in January, was let go, along with others. Yahoo's values include: We are committed to winning with integrity.The CEO was not committed to the same thing, and he is out.

 Clearly, living by their internal values has been difficult, embarrassing, and humbling for JPMorgan Chase, Best Buy, and Yahoo. Even when they are not perfect, all of their stakeholders can see they are trying to behave the way their values determine. Now when the executives of those companies ask for first-class conduct, respect, and integrity, they are role models for their corporate culture because they are walking the talk, and web sited, advertisements, and posters

Best Buy: Time for a gut check

As if struggling to adapt to consumers' changing needs wasn't enough, today Best Buy's CEO resigned for "personal conduct" reasons. CEO Brian Dunn resigned today, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing "personal conduct" but no details of the conduct were provided.

During the recession, Best Buy won a highly public battle with Circuit City who filed bankruptcy and closed, but now it's losing an even bigger war with Apple. Best Buy is set to close 50 stores, grow its Geek Squad computer support business, and needs to revamp the consumer experience. Best Buy used to be the cool place  to buy electronics, but now it's a "showroom" and Apple wins the battle for cool.

To put it in perspective, Best Buy stores had operating income per square foot of $50.61 in 2006 and just five years later the income per square foot was $18.52 according to estimates by the retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. By contrast, Apple's retail stores reaped an astronomical $4,700 per square foot last year, (From The Wall Street Journal)

Best Buy is hanging on for dear life, and now its CEO's resignation is likely to humiliate it further. This is a time of great opportunity for Best Buy, if it conducts an honest gut check. What are you made of, Best Buy? Great leaders, which Best Buy was once, are self-aware and adaptable. If it digs deep and finds out what's inside, Best Buy could overcome the embarrassing resignation, create a new customer experience, and position itself for a strong future.

After all, not everyone wants an Apple everything. There is room for competition, but Best Buy has to dig deep to remain part of the conversation. It's time for a gut check.

What do you think:  Can Best Buy make it?