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The Merchant Life Newsletter

Dr. No

By January 16, 2024April 17th, 2024No Comments

Even if you’re not a football fan, you likely saw football news on a TV somewhere. Notably, New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, has parted ways with with team after 24 years. His career is punctuated with six Super Bowl wins as a head coach.

What’s interesting is how the tail end of his career was a story of continuous poor decision-making. More interesting, is that his decision-making was left unchecked with very little oversight.

In his press conference, Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, said the following when talking about Belichick’s autonomy: “All of us need checks and balances in our life. We need what I say – I call it, we need doctor ‘no’s’ around us, people to protect ourselves from ourselves. And, as things evolve and you get more power, sometimes people are afraid to speak up.”

Every organization needs its version of a “Dr. No.” Someone who can reinforce boundaries and ensure proper accountability. Retailers and brands need to ask themselves if they have a Dr. No working for them.

At some point, without one, there will be clear impacts on:

  • Quality of products

  • Profitability

  • Speed to market

  • Morale

  • Execution of strategy

As an example, we have spoken and written about the effects of a lack of guardrails on design in a design-led brand. Without limits on development, stress is placed on other product creation functions. Another example is a lack of accountability in the GTM calendar. Speed is impacted as time drags on without making critical decisions.

But, there are examples beyond retail where the lack of a Dr. No has bigger consequences. Consider Boeing in the spotlight because of a blown-out door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight. That singular event is a reflection of deep dysfunction. Some of this involves factory partners removing workers who call out errors.

Regardless, a lack of checks and balances will show itself, one way or another.

The question is, who acts as the Dr. No in your organization? And if the answer is no one, it’s time to consider the reasons why not.