The Lululemon Management Model

Ever since I discovered Lululemon my first year out of high school, I have been obsessed with their athletic wear.  Because the clothing is way out of my price range, I will admit I only have a few items from the brand. However, the items I do own, I absolutely love. Maybe the Lululemon fit, style, and quality has stolen the hearts of all is customers (as it has mine) and that is why they have such a profitable business. However, I think much of the success is credited to their very strategic business model.

There are three distinct practices that I believe really sets Lululemon apart from its competitors. The first is empowerment. Lululemon stores are not meant to be simply a carbon copy of the some model store. Each manager of the individual Lululemon locations operates their store as if it were their own small business.  The individual stores are not micromanaged by corporate. Instead, the Lululemon is highly decentralized.

Furthermore, managers provide monthly feedback to the design departments. These correspondences between the individual store operators and the design team ensure that ideas and preferences of the managers have an opportunity to influence the next generation of products.

This brings me to my next point: the community-focused approach of Lululemon. Each Lululemon store is expected to not just merely exist in its surrounding but to integrate itself into the community. One way our local Lincoln Park location does this is by offering free yoga classes to on Saturday mornings. Hospitable services, such as the free yoga sessions, build brand loyalty while also facilitating a great service to their community.

The third distinct practice of Lululemon makes them so successful is keeping their inventory extremely scarce. Did you know that Lululemon is able to sell ninety-five percent of their inventory at full price? How many other retail stores do you know that can say that?

Lululemon never has a huge amount of inventory on site because the main distributor does not over produce their products.  But how do they know what is the ideal inventory? Well, the customers tell them. That’s right, some old fashion listening is the secret behind finding the ideal amount of inventory to have in store. The location of the folding tables is thoughtfully places neat the fitting rooms so employees are able to listen in on what their shoppers like and don’t like about the product.  If several people are complaining about an awkward fit of a particular shirt, the employees are trained to notify their manager would can avoid ordering any more of that item.  The company also is able to learn from their mistakes and therefore, if all goes as planned, avoid making such mistakes again.



MGT 598: Why it’s worth waking up for class on Saturday mornings…

Besides the fact that MGT 598 is one of the last classes that stands between most of us and our diploma, a recent study from consulting firm Project Management Solutions has concluded that companies gain a variety of benefits by investing in instructor-led classroom training on project management.

The survey results report that “project management training initiatives improved eight aspects of business and project performance by an average of 26 percent.” Categories that were cited include: stakeholder satisfaction, scheduling, decrease in project failures, keeping projects on budget, gathering requirements, quality, productivity, and time to market. While the results are somewhat subjective, the percentage is high enough where I think we can all agree the improvement was significant.

The findings indicate the type of training invested in also makes a difference in the results. According to the study, 69% of respondents rated instructor-led classroom training as the most effective method. I guess we’ve come to the right place!

Personally, I know that I have already benefitted from many of the in-class and blog discussions our group has had. One that is top of mind this week relates to the category called out above related to “decrease in project failures.” It seems that one of the best avenues to accomplishing this objective is employing risk management techniques. While risk management seems like an obvious topic to consider, truthfully, I have never worked on a team where this topic was formally discussed in the planning stages of the project. It hasn’t been until something begins to go wrong where this concept has been addressed.

By addressing the topic of risk management in our own class projects, it is already easy to see the benefits of risk management can be significant. Including a risk analysis in the early planning stages of the project can help the team think through potential challenges and proactively try to avoid some of the potential obstacles. It is certainly a practice I will continue to employ as I manage projects in the future.

What has been the most worthwhile learning for you so far in MGT 598?


Winning with Customer Service



Operation management in the banking sector is challenging for me since I’m holding the duties of branch manager. Last class we have learned about operation management in the service sector. I didn’t realize that what I’m doing is considered as operation management. As you all know customer wants and satisfaction is the success measure of any business; i.e. if customer left our branch dissatisfied he will be unwilling to deal with the bank and it will affect the bank reputation.

I have just faced customer complaint last week when his car loan application went into a long process over our bank departments. He was saying that his friend applies for the same in other bank and he got the car after three days only. When I contact the other department asking about the reason for the delay it was not reason that will stop processing the loan and the loan can be processed now and then the customer is going to provide us with the requested document.
What I have realized here, bank departments that have no direct customer interaction will not do their job based on customer is first, what they do basically is to make sure that all documents needed are provided.

What do you think about operations, credit and risk department? How can they be involved in providing excellent customer service?

Moreover, the customer was complaining that the customer service representative was not clear about the missing document. I have talked to the customer service representative and realized that she did not read the document properly before sending it to the concern department and at the same time the car loan were approved from three departments without realizing the missing document.
I think the problem was from all departments starting from the front line to the back line. At the end his requested was processed in exceptional bases because the bank policy prohibits processing such loan without the required document.

Do you think the bank policy is a source of not meeting customer expectations? What about exceptions? Does it meet customer expectations?

At the end, the customer gets his car in the same day he raised the complaint and he left the bank satisfied and happy. He will be dealing with the bank as his loan will last for seven years which will leads for a strong customer relationship. As you all realized the problem was from the front line at the beginning, I have explain the problem with the customer service representative and instruct her how to deal with such cases.

How can the customer service representative avoid customer complaint? Is training enough?