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For industry executives, the pressure to deliver consistent sales growth and profitability is immense. And from the seismic changes occurring in the physical retail space to the enormous growth of online shopping (and the looming threat of Amazon), it’s likely never been as challenging to be in fashion apparel and retailing as it is today.

But two just-published books aim to help retailers and brand executive leaders navigate these challenges by shaking free from the status quo.

In the “Reinventionist Mindset: Learning to Love Change, and the Human How of Doing It Brilliantly” by Joe Jackman (2020, Page Two Books), the author shares insights into what it takes to truly transform a company and break free from the human behavior patterns that keep leaders (and their companies) stuck in deep ruts.

In Benjamin Wall‘s “Amazon: Managing Extraordinary Success in 5-D Value” (2019, Morgan James Publishing), the author offers a clear and tactical approach to executive leadership by analyzing what sets the online giant apart from other companies and how applying a “value dimension” to business strategies can fuel success.

In Jackman’s book, the author sets the stage by summing up what change means to him, in two sentences, of 16 words: “Change is hard yet essential. Everything tends to work out if you get good at it.” Jackman goes on to describe the status quo as the “serial killer” of great companies, and points out that humans, fundamentally, abhor change and that it’s simply human nature to want to keep everything just as it is, “come what may.”

In response to this sort of laissez-faire approach to business, Jackman offers five principles within the “Reinventionist Mindset,” which is framed by a Yoda-like mantra: “It’s not enough to know. We must do.” The principles are people-powered, and includes “digging deep” into one’s business while looking beyond, and into other business categories for inspiration. Jackman encourages leaders to “embrace uncertainty” and to continually move forward. Other principles include having a clear picture of an expected outcome to focus on, and to “make momentum together” through collaboration.

Jackman includes case studies of retailers and brands, such as Old Navy, Duane Reade and Dave & Buster’s, among others, who have undergone transformations and what it took to succeed. But the most valuable part of the book is Jackman’s “pink pages” at the end, which includes a reinvention framework worksheet and action steps for putting it all into practice.

In Wall’s book, the author offers a detailed and densely packed, but easy to read, guide for taking what Amazon does best and making it work for any company. An industry consultant, business professor and economics expert, Wall has studied and analyzed Amazon to help inform and create a multifaceted logic model for business success.

Wall noted that most companies operate from a single value dimension — offering a product or service to a single customer — whereas Amazon works from multiple value dimensions, which includes “owning” the supply chain and “doing” the web site and then “knowing” the customer in the after-sales experience. Wall noted that Amazon is also honing a fourth dimension, which is an emotional connection to the customer. The author then identifies a fifth dimension of value, which is centered on creating “meaning across multiple communities” — which Wall sees as a model for a more sustainable future for retail.

Amazon is battling a group of warehouse employees in California federal court.

Benjamin Wall’s book notes several “value dimensions” deployed by Amazon.  Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The author launches the book with a look at how and where Amazon creates value before putting it into the context of the larger online market. Through a series of flow charts and logic model grids, Wall shows how these values play out in a business model. The final chapter includes a look at the future implications of the five-values model and also predicts how Amazon will evolve through a more localized logistics framework.

Similar to Jackman’s “pink pages,” Wall closes the book with a brief chapter (and web site link for more) on what it takes to put the value dimension model into practice.

And while Wall told WWD that his book “offers structured insights into strategically managing value in the key relationships to customers, personnel, business partners and investors in order to improve value management at any company,” this book seems most suitable for brands and retailers who see themselves as being under direct threat from Amazon itself.

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