Too Many Changes At Once Seldom Works

Jun 6, 2012

“Change” is a powerful word. 

To people on top, change is scary. On the bottom, change is always welcome.

Experts claim that how executives manage change is what separates CEOs. Businesses on top adjust to change. Those on the bottom try to create change.

The tricky thing is that too much change at once confuses people. And it backfires.

J.C. Penney is a perfect example. All at once, the new CEO changed the name to JCP. Changed the logo. The pricing. The store interiors. And the advertising. Each may be necessary, but five huge changes at one time is at least three changes too many.

In Penney's case, the most important change was the advertising. Penney should have made certain that the new advertising communicated very clearly the other four changes. But the new advertising does not. It makes reference to them, but doesn't explain any change in A-B-C fashion.

Penney's new CEO says it'll take time. The first quarter of change was a disaster. Traffic down ten percent. Sales down nineteen percent. Stock price down a third. After ninety days, consumers should begin showing signs they understand and like the changes. But there are signs consumers are more confused now than in the beginning.

Too much change at once seldom works.


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