COE stands for Correction of Errors.
One observer calls it “business journaling.” It’s the practice of taking time to do a weekly or monthly recap of your business, writing down what’s happening, what went wrong, what went well, and what needs change.
Each Walmart executive keeps a log of decisions made that didn’t work out, in addition to data about sales and other KPIs. By acknowledging errors, they can avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.
When they first hear the term, some outsiders are reminded of Mao’s Criticism-Self Criticism sessions or of school demerit books. The Walmart COE isn’t harsh, though. It reflects the humility and the wisdom of the Walmart Way.
The object is not to assign blame or find scapegoats. Instead, the point is to identify places in the business where the customer experience can be improved, the supply chain can be tightened up, and costs can be shaved. By looking back at the actions taken and identifying actions that weren’t perfect, it’s possible for the business to move ever closer to perfection.
Here are some of the items that might be included in COEs:
- Category highlights
- Category opportunities
- New product launch and performance
- Promotional event results
- Rollbacks and key pricing actions
- Event anniversaries
- Weather impact
- Logistical performance to goals
Walmart suppliers might want to take up the practice, too. Documenting what works and what needs work is good for any business. It can also be a powerful tool for improving your business with Walmart.