Can (and should) Target change its culture?

Since Target appointed an interim CEO (who handled the recent earnings call), there has been plenty of conversation about whether a company can change its stripes after becoming too insular and risk-averse. Some of this conversation has come from Target itself, including its marketing chief’s response to a disgruntled employee posting on Gawker. Here’s my recent comment on RetailWire:

Every company is entitled to build its own culture, and it’s easy for an anonymous blogger to air grievances that may or may not be personally motivated. What company (retail or otherwise) doesn’t have its share of disgruntled employees, whether or not they have the megaphone of Gawker?

With that being said, Target does seem to be an unusually inbred company. Many of us have commented on this since the departure of the CIO and then the CEO. (And a bit of full disclosure: I worked for Target’s predecessor company, Dayton Hudson Corporation, from 1978 to 1982…a lifetime ago.) The challenge for an incoming CEO will be to overturn the attitude of “we’ve always done things this way” common in any homegrown organization, without disrespecting the very real underlying assets and talent at Target.

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