Forget Stars—Companies Do Best When They Grow Their Own Talent


wired.comRon Johnson’s superstar status was unassailable. By 2011, after more than a decade at Apple, the senior vice president of retail had built a wildly lucrative network of retail stores. Credited with innovations like the Genius Bar, Johnson turned the Apple Store into an iconic destination and a money-­making machine. His success didn’t go unnoticed: JCPenney soon came knocking with a CEO offer, and Johnson jumped.

He did not stick the landing. Within 17 months of being hired, Johnson was axed. His attempt to transform JCPenney into something hip ignored the retailer’s history and customers, driving the company’s stock down 50 percent and alienating its core shoppers in a little more than one year. His time running the discount chain was described by columnist Jeff Macke as “one of the most aggressively unsuccessful tenures in retail history.”





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