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JCPenneys Transformation Epic Fail


epic-failure-e1348076197302The goal of Thought-Tech’s blog “On The Horizon” is to emphasize and illuminate trends, events and businesses specifically relating to branding, marketing and selling.

Today there’s a chance we’ll step in it as we look two institutions, the US government and JCPenney, both led by individuals who desire transformation.

Looking at the word transformation you’ll see a definition that starts off bland but ends with a kicker, “a change or alteration, especially a radical one”. Taking the dictionary thing one step further radical is defined as “favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms”.

So there you have it. The keywords in defining transformation and radical – change, alteration, drastic reforms.

The same keywords can be applied to Barack Obama’s vision of America and Ron Johnson’s vision of JCPenny.

When seen in the same context it’s not hard to understand why both visions aren’t working so great.

Radical transformation will fail – in business or government – because it imposes drastic change upon customers or the people. Change itself is not what causes it to fail. Change the people/customers don’t want is the reason it fails.

The distinction may be subtle but consider this. Change people want can sweep over people with incredible swiftness. Take the smartphone. Well over half of Americans carry this mini-computer around 24/7. Social interaction and behavior have morphed in the last 24 months as a result of smartphones. Why? Because people wanted smartphones.

Transformation succeeds when founded on principles or concepts that people want. If JCPenney customers  love the retailer for its sales and discounts, eradicating sales overnight only alienates customers.

JCPenney had a rough 2012. The numbers were abysmal, with JC Penney’s same-store sales–the level of sales made by stores that have been operating for at least a year–dropping a staggering 32%.

The US has transformed into a debtor nation. The government has amassed nearly $17 trillion dollars in debt – which translates into debt of $147, 287 per taxpayer and $52,843 per citizen. For a sobering view go to

So far for JCPenney and America, this “transformation” is only a “transformation” in the way that the demolition of a building is a “transformation.”

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