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What Would Sam Walton Do #1 – SIMPLIFICATION


Written by Michael Bergdahl

“The bigger Walmart gets the more essential it is that we think small, because that’s exactly how we have become a huge corporation – by not acting like one.”   Sam Walton


Simplify Everything You Do


Mr. Sam believed in simplifying every aspect of his business. For this reason, Walmart’s success strategies and tactics are easy for other company leaders to understand, yet hard for other companies to duplicate. This is because many business leaders have a tendency to value complicated solutions to business problems while discounting the value of simple solutions. Mr. Sam liked people to keep things simple, and that’s what he taught Walmart’s leaders and employees!

While other companies design their strategies around the philosophy of “thinking big, starting small and scaling up”, Walmart and Sam Walton developed their innovative strategies by “thinking small, starting small, and then scaling up!” Sam Walton was willing to patiently work the bugs out of a new idea on a small scale to avoid costly mistakes. He wanted to prove a new strategy would work and could be successfully executed in a single store, or a small group of stores, before he would ever consider rolling a new strategy out across all of his stores.

Inevitably, from time to time a strategy that looked good on paper wouldn’t work out when executed in the real world. When that happened the Walmart team would quickly fix it, modify it or simply scrap it and move on.

Simplification was such an important ingredient of Walmart’s secret success recipe that Sam Walton even expected and required that every new strategy be explained on one side of a single sheet of paper. He knew strategies had to be simplified to give his management teams the best chance to successfully implement them in Walmart’s stores.

Sam Walton believed in simplifying everything by embracing the “K.I.S.S.” Principle, which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid! That’s the principle he and the rest of Walmart’s leaders have embraced to grow Walmart into becoming the World’s Largest Company.


What Would Sam Do #1:  Sam Walton’s recommendation to other business leaders would be: “Simplify Everything You Do”!


 Your team can learn more about “Simplification at Walmart” from Michael Bergdahl’s book and speech titled: What I Learned from Sam Walton.


Michael Bergdahl is the author of 5 books and he is an international keynote speaker and master class leader. He worked with Sam Walton and he is an expert on Walmart’s Best Leadership Practices.

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