How a new CEO reinvented Best Buy

In 2012, Best Buy’s best years were behind it. The retail chain faced declining market share due to Amazon and other discount competitors.

To make matters worse, a scandal hit the company. The CEO suddenly quit after allegations arose that he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a female employee.

Shares of Best Buy fell to a 12-year low. It looked like it would follow other doomed retailers, like Circuit City and RadioShack, to the grave.

Within months, however, the board hired Hubert Joly as Best Buy’s new CEO. Joly, 56, lacked retail experience, but he was decisive and intent on boosting morale among the company’s 125,000 employees.

At his first meeting with the board, Joly declared that Best Buy was “the most dysfunctional organization I’ve ever seen.”

Yet, he also conveyed optimism, assuring his listeners that he could repair this “self-inflicted” wound. Then he spent a week observing a Best Buy store, taking notes and developing a turnaround plan.

He also sought advice from top leaders, including a visit to Apple CEO Tim Cook. (Apple is among Best Buy’s largest vendors.)

Cook encouraged Joly to look past Best Buy’s short-term troubles, recalling that the media used to routinely refer to “the beleaguered Apple” before its fortunes improved.

To right the ship, Joly made a flurry of important strategic moves.

“The difference between great leaders and good leaders is not the quality of their decisions,” Joly says. “It’s the quantity of their decisions.”

— Adapted from “The New Geek Squad,” Jen Wieczner,