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

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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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