But boards, particularly in dying industries such as brick-and-mortar retail, tend to play it safe, even if well-intentioned caution means they're setting their companies up for failure.
At Investor Day, Joly read off of a teleprompter. He showed no enthusiasm and zero command of any subject that matters to Best Buy. Everything about the guy -- from the way he uses words to his body language -- makes me wonder if he owns a smartphone, knows his way around an iPad, can stop the time from flashing on his VCR or has ever made an e-commerce purchase.
In my world, we refer to guys like Joly as "out of the demo." He can't relate to the demographics represented by his own customers and combat 21st Century challenges or respond to opportunities innovators ranging from Apple to Amazon to Starbucks present.
As I watched Gillett speak after Joly, I could only think a.) Best Buy dropped the ball by not naming him CEO and b.) he will not be around much longer. Guys like Gillett cannot operate effectively with their hands tied. They tend not to work well with consultants. And that's exactly what Joly is -- a consultant who can, best-case scenario, shore up administrative minutia, the stuff that ends up taking care of itself anyway with a little bit of success.He's not a visionary. He has no instinct for the spaces he must intimately understand. He's just not up the enormous task at hand. Working from the same retail toolbox that has already failed the sector, Joly speaks of optimizing Best Buy's remaining tangible and intangible assets. He cannot, however, set out and implement the wholesale transformation Best Buy needs. Simply put, he doesn't belong in the same row of bar stools as guys who dictate the rules of engagement. Names such as Jobs, Bezos and Schultz. Given Marissa Mayer-like carte blanche, Gillett can get there. He might even be able to execute the unimaginable. He could take Best Buy and morph it into something unrecognizable to itself and the average customer.
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