Walmart, Inc.’s Planning and Bureaucratic Control

Subject: Management
Pages: 4
Words: 1122
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

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Planning is the first step in any project since organizational goals and means of achieving them are established in this initial stage. In general, planning in management is divided into two fundamental approaches — planning for the possibilities and planning for coordination (Emblemsvåg, 2017). The former approach forecasts potential issues in detail, while the latter strives to create an environment suitable for handling any possibility;

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Organizing ensures the company’s smooth operation, which helps achieve the goals set in the planning stage. In particular, organizing is used for labor division and coordination between various internal groups (Bateman et al., 2020). In addition, organizing sets the premises for task delegation and gives authority, a vertical glue that creates responsibility and accountability;

Leadership is a management function that is crucial for keeping the employees motivated. Effective managers are not necessarily true leaders; however, management positions offer opportunities for leadership (Bateman et al., 2020). As such, managers have to inspire their subordinates to attain the company’s vision;

Control directs the employees’ activities towards reaching the goals set in the planning stage. Unsurprisingly, Bateman et al. (2020) described the control function as a Siamese twin to planning. Overall, all four management functions are related as the links of a chain. Weakness in any link may doom the whole project to fail.

Company Overview and Mission Statement

Walmart, Inc. is the largest corporation in the United States, the leader of the 2021 Fortune 500 ranking. In the 2021 fiscal year, Walmart generated over $559 billion in revenue, a 6,7% increase compared to 2020 (Fortune, 2022);

Mission Statement. According to the Environmental, Social and Governance report (Walmart, 2021), Walmart’s corporate purpose is to “save people money and help them live better.”

Corporate Vision. Vision is a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization (Bateman et al., 2020). Walmart sets a vision of transforming into a regenerative company, which creates value for people and the planet, enhances the sustainability of retail products, strengthens communities, and upholds the highest ethical standards (Walmart, 2021);

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Corporate Values. Walmart defines four fundamental values: acting with integrity, striving for excellence, serving the customer, and respecting the individual (Walmart, 2021). These values align with the corporate vision and mission statement.

Strategic Planning (Goal, Manager & Power)

Strategic planning focuses on the big picture by creating a long-term goal and explaining why it must be attained. In regard to Walmart, the overarching vision is aimed at becoming a regenerative company; enhancing the sustainability of retail products serves as one of the strategic goals on the road to fulfilling the vision;

Goal at the strategic level: Improving sustainability on the road to becoming a regenerative company. In Walmart’s case, this goal is manifested in implementing company-wide ESG strategies in various dimensions of sustainability — inclusivity and diversity, environmental protection, and ethical governance;

Manager in charge: Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). Such a significant strategic goal must be managed by one of the highest-profile corporate officials;

Most useful forms of power: Legitimate, referent. Most importantly, a manager must hold a high position within the organization in order to plan strategically. In addition, referent power would make CSO’s team members work harder for her.

Tactical Planning (Goal, Manager & Power)

Tactical planning supports and follows strategic planning by dividing a large strategic plan into more specific parts. In Walmart’s example, one of such smaller parts is making the company’s supply chains more sustainable. In particular, this goal is achieved by waste and emissions reduction, upholding workers’ dignity, and creating inclusive economic opportunities (Walmart, 2021);

Goal at the tactical level: Enhancing the sustainability of product supply chains;

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Manager in charge: Senior Supply Chain Director. Given the massive size of Walmart, planning on the tactical level still requires the involvement of senior managers in the supply department;

Most useful forms of power: Expert, reward, referent. A senior supply chain director in such a corporation as Walmart likely possesses rich experience in managing and optimizing large supply chains. Therefore, subordinates will adhere to their judgment based on extensive knowledge of the professional field. In addition, a high-level direct supervisor has the power to motivate well-performing employees with rewards. Lastly, referent power will help increase the team’s motivation through moral support.

Operational Planning (Goal, Manager & Power)

Operational planning deals with actual practices and ongoing plans for reaching particular objectives. At this level, the strategic goal set by the CSO and shaped by the senior supply chain director finds its real-life implementation in relationships with the suppliers. According to Walmart (2021), the company strives to make 100% of the global private brand packaging recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable by 2025. Regional supply chain managers contribute to attaining this goal in their day-to-day work with Walmart’s suppliers;

Goal at the operational level: reduce packaging waste in working with suppliers;

Manager in charge: Regional Supply Chain Manager;

Most useful forms of power: Reward, coercive. Reward power can be applied to the manager’s subordinates and Walmart suppliers. On the one hand, Walmart employees may be rewarded for organizing such events as the 2020 Sustainable Packaging Innovation Summit (Walmart, 2021). On the other hand, the suppliers may be rewarded for making progress on packaging with the new purchase agreements. This notion stands true for coercive power — employees will work harder in order to reach the goal by 2025, and the suppliers will implement the necessary changes to avoid losing contracts with Walmart.

Bureaucratic Control

Walmart can utilize two forms of bureaucratic control which would assist in tracking the progress towards the goal of packaging waste reduction in supply chains. Firstly, it is possible to establish a formal system based on concurrent control of performance standards (Bateman et al., 2020). According to Walmart (2021), the current operational goal is set at reaching 100% recyclability of packaging. Therefore, it is possible to create an annually-evaluated metric based on supplier reports and use it to trace the movement towards the 100% recyclability mark;

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Corrective measures will be applied if the adoption of recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable packaging progresses significantly slower than planned. However, these measures should not necessarily be punitive or coercive. Bateman et al. (2020) provided a principle of exception which states that control is enhanced by concentrating on significant deviation from the standard. As such, punishment should not be applied if the use of recyclable packaging will reach a hypothetical 95% mark by 2025 instead of perfect 100%;

Finally, a large organization of Walmart’s size can conduct a special internal sustainability audit. This audit would evaluate the progress achieved in all dimensions of sustainability, including supply chains. As a result, any significant issues emerging on the road to packaging waste reduction will be revealed and prepared for corrective action.

References

Bateman, T. S., Snell, S., & Konopaske, R. (2020). Management. McGraw-Hill Education.

Emblemsvåg, J. (2017). Handling risk and uncertainty in project planning. The Journal of Modern Project Management, 4(3), pp. 21-30.

Fortune. (2022). Walmart. Web.

Walmart. (2021). Environmental, social and governance: FY 2021 summary. Web.