Reinvent or Invent Continuous Improvement  Term Paper

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Initially, the Home Depot strove to turn its flagging profits and image around through product innovation, although it has never been as rigorous in its self-examination as Toyota. Still, after expanding to the point that industry analysts worried that it had overextended itself, and after the more female-friendly Lowes stores with their superior store layout threatened its dominance, the Home Depot "sanded down its rougher product edges a little to make itself much more appealing to a broader consumer demographic," including women (Casey, 2004, p.1). However, the Home Depot's success over competitors like Lowes has not been nearly as complete as Toyota's dominance over Detroit and while Toyota enjoys status as the most successful and respected car company in America, the Home Depot's ability to survive at the top is far more uncertain. Initially, the Home Depot focused more on product reform, rather than changing its company structure. To keep itself "fresh and exciting "it stressed "evolving product selection" (Casey 2004, p.1). While in its early years of branding itself "the home center targeted [male] professional contractors and serious do-it-yourself home improvement buffs" to lure female consumers in the first phase of reinvention it included a "kitchen and bathroom design center complete with high-end designer Kohler fixtures and Ralph Lauren and Disney licensed lines of paint" (Casey 2004, p.1).

Now, determined to once again rule supreme, Home Depot's new CEO is striving to centralize and toughen up its management, going against conventional wisdom. The "cultural overhaul is taking Home Depot in a markedly different direction from Lowe's, where managers describe the atmosphere as demanding -- but low-profile, collaborative, and collegial" ("Renovating Home Depot," BusinessWeek, 2006). The Home Depot organizational overhaul is again decidedly masculine: "Importing ideas, people, and platitudes from the military is a key part of [new CEO] Nardelli's sweeping move to reshape Home Depot, the world's third-largest retailer, into a more centralized organization ("Renovating Home Depot." BusinessWeek, 2006).

Toyota's success was unchallenged, the Home Depot's status as the world's third-largest retailer seemed like a fall from grace -- but Delta Airline's reinvention was necessary because the company was bankrupt. Delta remodeled its rebirth upon Continental Airline's comeback from bankruptcy, and stressed its international flights. Since its return, Delta's international revenue grew intentionally from 20% to 35% of its total gross, and the carrier has an eventual target of drawing 50% of its core revenue from international flights (Harris 2005:1). Rather than just focusing on cutting expenses like other regional airlines that went bankrupt, Delta focused on changing its product an its image has made aggressive moves to reinvent itself after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy declaration in September 2005. "Today, Delta no longer characterizes itself as a large regional airline" it proudly calls itself "a large international airline and in 2006 the carrier introduced nine new international flights" (Reed 2006).

Although vastly different exterior and interior forces drove these companies to reinvent themselves, from fears of xenophobia, to the realities of falling from the status of Number One, to bankruptcy, all of these companies had to reinvent their structures and images as well as their products. Toyota kept its pulse on the needs of the American consumer, cut production costs, and rehabilitated its image by helping its workers and the community in what was seen as a uniquely American fashion (lobbying Congress didn't hurt either). Home Depot struggles to draw female consumers into its stores and find a managerial approach that works for its retail organization. And Delta Airline's successful rebirth, also still germinating, has at very least surpassed some of its rivals that are still attempting to endure the blows that political events have dealt the industry.

Works Cited

Casey, Bernadette. "

Discounters tops at keeping business fresh."

DSN Retailing Today. 25 Oct 2006. [28 Jul. 2007]

Reed, Ted. "Delta's Chapter 11 Reinvention." The 18 Oct 2006.

Renovating Home Depot." BusinessWeek. 3 Mar 2006.

A t

Why Toyota Is Afraid of Being Number One." BusinessWeek.

Mar 2007. [28 Jul 2007]…

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