Walmart: Driving Innovation at Scale
In 2014, Walmart was at an inflection point. The world’s largest company wasn’t sure how to evolve and innovate to win over the next 30 years. In a leadership change that year, Doug McMillon rose to become Walmart’s new CEO. Soon after, he hired Lori Flees, a Bain & Company partner, to lead Walmart’s Corporate Strategy and drive innovation at scale.
Flees led Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com for $3.3 billion and together with Jet founder Marc Lore stood up Walmart’s internal incubation arm called Store No. 8. With an internal venture-capital style approach, Store No. 8 focuses on developing technologies that are at least 3 to 5 years out. All Store No. 8 companies operate as independent entities with CEOs, boards, and business metrics.
Store No. 8, however, is not Walmart’s only weapon to drive innovation at scale. Flees moves to lead the Next Generation Retail team structuring symbiotic partnerships with other powerful industry players through a variety of tools. Then she transitions again to bring “everyday low prices” to health care.