Staples CEO on Innovation: ‘Let the Best Opportunities Rise to the Surface’

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CEOs on INNOVATION
This interview is from our CEOs on Innovation report, in the Fall 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine.
In 2016, Shira Goodman took over as chief executive of Staples at a challenging juncture: A plan to merge with Office Depot had been nixed by the Federal Trade Commission, and the 30-year-old company was under extreme pressure to shift its business quickly from retail stores to online sales. That urgency remains, but Staples was acquired by a private equity firm, Sycamore Partners, in mid-2017, taking the company out of Wall Street’s quarterly pressure-cooker.

How do you divide your time when you think about growth?

Personally, I am a big believer in [McKinsey’s] three horizon approach and talk about it a lot within Staples. For our business, Horizon 1 is facing real-time challenges—specifically secular decline in our historic categories, like paper and ink, and a channel shift from traditional retail to e-commerce. While we are doing a good job of adapting in these areas, it increases the importance of Horizons 2 and 3. Horizon 2, our mid-term growth, is where I spend the majority of my energy because we need to get the flywheel going there fast.

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