Whole Foods: Managing as Co-CEOs

Whole Foods: Managing as Co-CEOs

David Dodson, Erika Feldhausen
2020|Case No.E697| Length 10 pgs.

This case introduces students to the founding story and growth of Whole Foods, a large grocery chain focused on healthy, organic, and whole foods retailing. The case describes some of the considerations Walter Robb (co-CEO Whole Foods, 2010-2016) faced when deciding whether to accept a CEO role alongside the founder John Mackey. The case also introduces a significant PR crisis that Whole Foods faced when its New York City stores were alleged to have overcharged customers for items weighed and packaged in-stores.

Learning Objective

This case challenged students to consider the costs and benefits of the shared leadership model. Students should learn how to define roles, address disagreements, and communicate internally / externally with stakeholders. The case also introduces a significant PR crisis and asks students to role play the appropriate response along with a partner “co-ceo”.

This material is designated for use in specific Stanford GSB classes only. For inquiries, contact the Case Writing Office.