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Ron Johnson, who was hired as CEO of J.C. Penney in 2011, serves as a cautionary tale of the importance of listening and teamwork in business. Johnson had extensive experience in the retail industry, having worked at Target and Apple, and he had big ideas for revitalizing the J.C. Penney brand. However, Johnson ignored the input of industry veterans and focused on his own ideas, which ultimately led to a financial disaster for the company.

Johnson decided to change J.C. Penney’s pricing strategy and eliminate sales and coupons in favor of everyday low prices. This strategy proved to be unsuccessful, and the company lost millions of dollars in sales. Johnson also invested millions of dollars in store renovations, but failed to attract new customers.

Ultimately, Johnson was fired in 2013 after only 17 months in the position. His failure as CEO of J.C. Penney demonstrated the importance of listening to others and working as a team to succeed in business. By ignoring the input of industry veterans and not collaborating with his team, Johnson’s tenure at J.C. Penney serves as a reminder that no single individual has all the answers, and success often comes from a willingness to listen and work with others.


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  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. The book emphasizes the importance of experience in decision-making and provides practical advice for building and running a startup. Available on Amazon.
  • The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation. The book teaches how to implement lean principles in an organization and the importance of experience in the process. Available on Amazon.
  • The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth. The book provides a practical guide to achieving successful growth through innovation and emphasizes the importance of experience in the process. Available on Amazon.


“Don’t rely on your luck” in business terms suggests the importance of strategic planning, consistent hard work, and data-driven decision-making over leaving things to chance. Here are some ways to implement this philosophy and what to do if you’ve been relying too much on luck:

1. Strategic Planning: Every business needs a strategic plan to guide its efforts. This should include a clear mission, a vision for the future, and specific, measurable objectives. The plan should also outline the steps needed to achieve these objectives.

2. Data-Driven Decision Making: Rather than making decisions based on gut feelings or luck, use data to inform your decisions. This could be financial data, customer data, market research, or any other relevant information. Data-driven decision-making can help reduce uncertainty and improve outcomes.

3. Risk Management: Risks are inevitable in business, but you can manage them. Develop a risk management plan that identifies potential risks, assesses their impact, and outlines strategies to mitigate them.

4. Consistent Hard Work: There’s no substitute for hard work. Consistently putting in the effort is more likely to result in success than relying on luck.

5. Continual Learning and Improvement: Business environments and markets are always changing. Stay informed about trends and changes in your industry, and continually seek to improve your skills and knowledge.

If you find that you’ve been relying too much on luck, here’s a plan of action:

1. Acknowledge the Problem: First, acknowledge that relying on luck is not a sustainable strategy. Recognizing the problem is the first step toward solving it.

2. Create a Strategic Plan: If you don’t already have a strategic plan, now is the time to create one. This will give you a clear direction and goals to work toward.

3. Embrace Data: Start using data to inform your decisions. If you’re not sure where to start, there are many resources available to help you learn about data-driven decision-making.

4. Develop a Risk Management Plan: Identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. This can help reduce your reliance on luck and improve your ability to handle unexpected situations.

5. Commit to Hard Work: Make a commitment to consistently put in the effort required to achieve your goals. This might involve setting specific tasks or objectives, or developing a schedule or routine.

6. Never Stop Learning: Commit to ongoing learning and improvement. This could involve taking courses, attending industry events, or simply staying informed about trends and changes in your industry.

Remember, while luck can sometimes play a role in business success, it’s not something you can control or rely on. Focus instead on the things you can control, like your strategy, efforts, and decisions.

Test yourself

We want to test your knowledge about “Don’t rely on your luck”. Participate and find out how much you know!

1. In the context of business, “Don’t rely on your luck” is best interpreted as which of the following?


2. How might the principle of “Don’t rely on your luck” apply to a company’s financial management?


3. Why might a company adopt the “Don’t rely on your luck” approach in its marketing strategy?


4. How does the principle of “Don’t rely on your luck” apply to hiring and talent acquisition in a company?


5. In the context of product development, how can a company implement the “Don’t rely on your luck” principle?


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