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Watching Wal-Mart


Last Thursday Andy Grossman Executive Director of Wal-Mart Watch headed up from Washington DC, the center of what some people think of as the political universe, to our headquarters in Burlington, Vermont, which we we like to think of as the center of another universe altogether. After writing up my visit with Lee Scott, Wal-Mart CEO, in the last issue of the Non-Toxic Times, it was like holding on to the other end of a long metaphorical branch.

We talked strategy mostly. How does Wal-Mart Watch–an organization primarily funded by the service workers union and one that sits at the center of the most successful negative campaign that anyone has ever launched–promote positive change without getting sucked into the seductive vortex of Wal-Mart’s avalanche of new initiatives? How do they hold out for real fundamental systemic change? How do they provide solutions rather than just criticism? How good does Wal-Mart have to be? And how quick enough?

Talk about a complex strategic problem. This week they're taking a new tack by stating in positive terms what Wal-Mart needs to do to recapture its founding principles, assume its moral responsibilities, and achieve greatness. Wal-Mart Watch launched "A Handshake With Sam" A step in the right direction!

Stay tuned...