We Are Market Basket

If you're looking for an engaging and inspirational nonfiction read, I can heartily recommend We Are Market Basket, by journalists Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker. I've written about the gripping (yes, really!) supermarket saga before, but if you're not familiar with the details, here's a quick recap:

Market Basket, a successful family-owned regional supermarket chain here in the Northeast, was embroiled in a longstanding family feud over the control and direction of the company. Things came to a head in the summer of 2014, when the longtime and much-beloved CEO was ousted by his cousin.

Normally, things would end there, for the most part. There would be internal memos and maybe a few headlines, but life would go on as usual for the rank-and-file.

At Market Basket, it didn't.

A daring group of warehouse workers put their jobs on the line and essentially shut down the business by refusing to make deliveries to the stores. Thousands of workers, from baggers to high-ranking managers, held rallies for their ousted CEO, declaring they would work for no one else. Customers boycotted the stores but took the time to swing by and tape their grocery receipts from other supermarkets to Market Basket doors in a show of support.  

In late August of 2014, a deal was struck whereby the deposed CEO bought out his cousin and returned to his former position - to much revelry and rejoicing. As a regular Market Basket shopper myself, I can attest to the festival atmosphere that ensued when things returned to normal.

It's an interesting thought exercise: If your top leadership were suddenly replaced, would your employees mind? Would they even notice? (Worse still, would they be positively thrilled?)

It's become fashionable to bandy about the term "corporate culture," but where the rubber really meets the road is when that culture is threatened. Employees may feel loyal to their coworkers, or to their immediate manager, but a high level of devotion to the company itself is truly extraordinary - and a goal worth shooting for.