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Editor's Corner: A Delightful Sense of Mischief

Furniture World Magazine


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With the passing of 2019 Furniture World lost its good friend and retail editor Janet Holt-Johnstone following a brief illness.

Before joining Furniture World, Janet had a long career in journalism, public relations and marketing in and outside of the furniture industry. Born in London, England, she was evacuated at a young age to Canada during WWII. Janet traveled on the SS Athenia, which was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland by a German submarine. She survived. Seventy-seven years later she published her first novel. These events were bookends to an interesting life punctuated by what her daughter Andrea described as a "delightful sense of mischief."

Janet’s retail furniture store profiles for Furniture World covered successful right-brained retailers that were creative, intuitive and experiential as well as left-brained, logical, by-the-numbers operations.

Today, with competition coming from all quarters, furniture retailers need to be adept at combining experiential and quantitative business practices in a whole-brain approach.

In a 1997 article in the Harvard Business Review (hbr.org), "Putting Your Company's Whole Brain to Work," Dorothy Leonard and Susan Straus provided the following guidance for companies seeking to boost their logical and intuitive business powers:

Understand yourself. If you want an innovative organization, you need to hire, work with, and promote people who make you uncomfortable.

Forget the golden rule. Don’t treat people [the people you hire and the people you sell to] the way you want to be treated. Tailor communications to the receiver instead of the sender.

Create "whole-brained" teams. Either over time or by initial design, company or group cultures can become dominated by one particular cognitive style.... When the market demands that such companies innovate in different ways, they have to learn new responses. Doing so requires adopting a variety of approaches to solving a problem.

Now in its 150th year, Furniture World plans to continue to provide leading-edge information retailers can use to boost sales, cut costs and give customers the experiences they want and deserve. And, we hope to do that in a way that Janet Holt-Johnstone would approve of –– with right and left-brained approaches plus a "delightful sense of mischief" when possible.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2020.

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Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at editor@furninfo.com.