Sears Canada executive chairman Brandon Stranzl says the company is being run like a startup.

Interesting, but what does “running like a startup” mean?

Is it being lean, agile and having a willingness to take risks? Does it involve a certain attitude toward business?

While many large companies talk about being more startup-like, the question is whether it’s possible.

I mean, you’re talking about multi-layer, bureaucratic companies with thousands of employees trying to behave differently. This is despite having years of having a corporate DNA that underpins how they operate the business.

For Sears Canada, running like a startup involves opening pop-up stores in downtown Toronto catering to millennials. It means shrinking 64 private-label brands into a single private-label brand.

Is this “running like a startup”?

For Sears Canada, it has little choice to become more agile and aggressive because its business is shrinking. Sales have tumbled by more than 50% to $3-billion at a time when traditional retail is under siege from discount retailers and the rise of e-commerce.

Running like a startup sounds like a good strategy for a business facing an uncertain future but can it be anything more than a trendy rallying call?

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