Author Archives: Walter Palmer

Five Myths About Generation Y

There is a great article over at strategy+business (free registration required) that highlights five myths that continue to be perpetuated about generational differences, especially when it comes to the “Millenials” or “Generation Y.”  The cited research specifically addresses five myths:

  1. Millenials don’t want to be told what to do
  2. Millenials lack organizational loyalty
  3. Millenials aren’t interested in their work
  4. Millenials are motivated by perks and high pay
  5. Millenials want more work-life balance

For several years now, research study after research study have shown that generational differences have largely been over-hyped by training companies, consultants, and a whole cottage industry of companies that seek to make money on this premise.  Most studies find that employees, across generations, are seeking the same things in the workplace.  Of course there are differences in styles between older workers and younger workers, but that does not infer different motivations.

In fact, most differences in attitudes are more closely associated with age and tenure in the workforce themselves.  Yes, younger, lower paid employees are more concerned about compensation as they don’t make much money in the first place.  Yes, younger employees tend to change jobs more quickly – just like most of us did in our early 20’s.

I’m not suggesting that organizations don’t explore how they communicate to different demographic segments of their employee populations whether that be along the lines of age, culture, gender, etc.  However, it is time to question trite and oversimplified premises advanced by those who to seek to profit from them.

Return on Investment (ROI) for Loss Prevention

At the recent RILA Loss Prevention Conference, the VP of Finance for a major retailer gave a presentation on how budget requests.  In his presentation, he talked about three measures that they use on a regular basis:

  • Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
  • Payback Period

These measures are used broadly by finance groups to evaluate resource requests, especially capital budget requests.  If you would like to learn more about the technical aspects of these tools, you can view the article I wrote on this topic for LP Magazine many years ago on our website.  Sometimes it helps to use examples that relate to our specific field and this article that very thing.

RILA Loss Prevention Conference Recap

I had the opportunity to participate in RILA’s Loss Prevention & Safety Conference in Dallas, TX last week and thought it went very well.  I know not everyone is fond of industry conferences but I always enjoy the chance to catch up with others and hear what they are doing, what is keeping them up at night, and their take on how our industry is doing – both the overall retail business and our function specifically.

At last week’s show, a couple of presentation stood out for me:

  • Erik Newcomb from lululemon athletica did a great job in sharing how their Loss Prevention approach has to be very customized to fit into his organization’s very strong and unique culture.
  • The folks from Target presented, in conjunction with Shawn Evans from P&G, a good glimpse into how they tackle systemic and process issues with some specific success stories.
  • I always find it interesting to hear about the challenges that senior leaders in large organizations face and we got that chance when Jim Lee moderated a panel made up of Stan Welch, JC Penney’s, Ken Amos, Walgreens, and Claude Verville, Lowes.
  • Liz Benson from RILA coordinated a really nice student program that included attendance at the conference, some pre-work assignments, and presentations from the student’s themselves.  They did a better job than I could imagine myself having done in that situation at that age and I heard lots of compliments about them from retailers.

There were several others sessions that I heard good feedback about but just wasn’t able to attend.  And, of course, there were lots of networking opportunities where it was great to connect with industry friends and colleagues.  Congrats to all of the presenters and the organizers who put the show together!

CCFA Asset Protection Conference – Beijing, China

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate CCFA Asset Protection Conference in Beijing, China which is hosted by the China Chain Store & Franchise Association (CCFA).  My hosts, including CCFA and Michael Zang, chair of the conference, were outstanding to work with and I thought I’d share a few thoughts from the experience.

Presentation at CCFA - Beijing, China

As the first Western speaker at this conference, I was asked to talk about the evolution of the U.S. loss prevention industry, what factors have driven its development, and how the Chinese retail industry might learn from it and move forward more quickly.  Clearly, the loss prevention and asset protection industry is in its early stages in China (as is the case in several other developing markets) and much needs to be done to create an understanding of how our function contributes to organizational performance.

The loss prevention practitioners that I met at the conference are, by and large, assertive and forward thinking with an eagerness to learn from others’ experience.  However, from my experience in observing quite a few retail operations in China, little has been provided to these employees in regards to professional development.  This is due, in part, to the lack of a developed industry but I think it also relates to language and culutural barriers plus the seeming lack of operational strategy that many retailers have for China.

There is a cadre of leaders within China who are working to develop expertise and industry opportunities from within China as evidenced in this conference, interest in publications and certifications from the U.S. such as LP Magazine, the Certified Forensic Interviewer credential, and the efforts of the Loss Prevention Foundation.  Additionally, data is starting to be collected and dissemenated in regards to shrinkage and loss.  KPMG presented data at the conference showing a slowly rising trend in shrinkage, although classification and measurement variances between companies cause difficulty.  However, this is also true in most developed markets.

If Western companies hope to be successful with their loss prevention efforts in China, they will have to carefully consider how they are going to help build the professional and technical skills of those who are on the leading edge of the nascent profession in China.  I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on what you are doing to build capability in this market.

Organizational Alignment for Loss Prevention

At the recent FMI Asset Protection conference in New Orleans, I had a chance to address the group on the issue of how Loss Prevention groups align themselves, or don’t, with the overall organization and senior management.  I’ve written on this topic on several other occassions and believe that it continues to be a critical issue for all retailers.

In preparation for this event, I was able to work with Rhett Asher at FMI to conduct an exclusive survey on this topic.  We asked both senior Loss Prevention executives and CEO’s/Senior Management to give their views on how well their Loss Prevention group integrates into the overall mission of the company and where focus and improvement needs to occur.  We were pleased to get good participation from both groups and the findings contained both good news and also some indicators of opportunity for us.

In general, senior executives believed that the Loss Prevention was critical to their company’s success and that they were doing a pretty good job, although not as good of a job as Loss Prevention executives rated their own group.  However, senior executives tended to have a fairly narrow view of critical focus areas which might indicate some failure on our part to communicate the broad range of value and contribution we make to ther organization.

In upcoming months, look for an article in LP Magazine where we will give the detailed results of the survey and some ideas on how to improve organizational alignment with the enterprise.