Worry about the right thing.

by Roger Pynn

We’re a society that just loves to watch people fail (for proof, just see the lineup of “reality” shows on television where winning may be the end game, but week-in and week-out the elimination of some participant is the highlight).  It happens in business, too, and media (real and social) act like pit bulls when they think they’ve sunk their teeth into the ear of an emerging failure.

Nowhere has that been more obvious for the past year or so as people have been shredding retailer J.C. Penney (JCP).  There’s been no shortage of experts criticizing the company’s every move and predictions of its demise have been everywhere.

So this L.A. Times story caught my eye.  While like all business stories it regurgitates JCP’s woes of the past year, but it actually goes pretty deep into CEO Ron Johnson’s strategies, which are not surprisingly very reminiscent of the thinking he was famous for at Apple.

But what struck me as most important among them is that Johnson isn’t looking over his shoulder every day at 5 p.m. as the stock market closes.  He’s not acting like the typical CEO of a publicly traded company, focusing all of his communication on analysts and investors.  Instead, he’s focused on executing strategies that will “give a reason for a lot of customers who haven’t been to JCP lately to come check it out.”

Johnson says that he will take a focus on operational, marketing and communication issues, rather than investor meetings.  “The doubt is in the business community and not with the customer,” said Johnson.  “The business backdrop is interesting, but my focus is totally on the customer.  That’s where I need to spend my time.”

Amen to that.  Don’t worry about what’s being written.  Worry about what it takes to get the writers wanting to write about you all the time because you’re so good at what you do.

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