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• The Northwest Arkansas Morning News carries an interview with former Wal-Mart executive vice president Don Soderquist.

One noteworthy excerpt:

“I was totally in tune with Sam's vision. And Sam's vision wasn't to become the wealthiest person in the world or wasn't to become the largest company in the world. Sam's vision was to provide an opportunity for people in small, rural communities to be able to enhance their standard of living by reduced prices and really do it with a group of people who believed in the same thing. So his vision was very intriguing to me and it wasn't focused don the bottom line. Now, we did focus on the bottom line in order to sustain it, we had to. But the vision was something that was bigger than bottom line stuff. It was to help other people reduce their cost of living.

“The second thing was values. My personal values were very much in line with Sam's values. We lived them out everyday. And one of those values was treating your customers better than anybody else treats them. There was a focus on who your customers really were and then treat them extremely well. And then there was a focus on our people. And pull the people together in a team so that everybody knew that their role was important. Those were the elements that were extremely important. I could go through a whole list of things, but those were really important.”

KC's View:
I wonder if it could be fairly argued that when Wal-Mart has run into tough times, it has been because it has lost sight of those primary values established by Sam Walton so long ago? It probably is the fate of almost all big companies that the bigger they get, the more likely it is that they focus on the bigness and not on the values that propelled them in that direction. And I suspect that the list of companies that resisted the siren call to be big for the sake of being big is far longer than the list of those that resisted.