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On June 16, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Oing issued a 63-page decision in which he found that retailer J.C. Penney JCP 2.78% had committed tortious interference in its attempt to develop a Martha Stewart store inside JC Penney stores. The deal, announced in 2011 as Ron Johnson took Penney’s helm, violated the terms of a preexisting deal that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia MSO -0.89% had with Macy’s M 1.29% , the judge ruled. Damages will be determined by a special master or referee.

6月16日,纽约州最高法院华裔法官翁家驹给出长达63页的判决书,认定零售商J.C. Penney公司试图在J.C. Penney商场中开玛莎·斯图沃特(Martha Stewart)店面属侵权干扰行为。这笔交易于2011年罗恩·约翰逊执掌J.C. Penney时宣布。翁家驹法官裁定,它违反了玛莎·斯图沃特公司早前与梅西百货(Macy’s)签订的协议之条款。损害赔偿将由一名特别专家或鉴定人决定。
The decision surprised no one. Oing had previously issued a preliminary injunction barring Penney from building the stores and selling most of the products. The ill-fated deal was just one of the many choices that contributed to Johnson’s ultimate failure.
翁家驹法官做出这个裁定是意料之中的事。他曾发布初步禁令,禁止J.C. Penney公司建造玛莎o斯图沃特店面以及销售这个品牌的大部分产品。这笔不幸流产的交易只不过是约翰逊最终失败的诸多原因之一。
The decision also sheds light on how closely Johnson’s own approach to management hewed to the “reality distortion field” made famous by his prior boss and mentor, Steve Jobs—and, more important—how infrequently such an approach can succeed outside of Apple.
When Johnson took the helm at J.C. Penney, he brought with him a strong belief that his Apple experience—he built the company’s stores, now the most profitable retail group in the country—would be a huge plus. So did Penney’s board of directors; indeed, it was the main reason he was selected. Johnson held a coming out party eerily reminiscent of Jobs’ MacWorld events; he added a clean, white aesthetic to the company’s branding and logo; he hired several Apple veterans; and he talked constantly about his closeness to Jobs and the Apple way of doing things.
约翰逊入主J.C. Penney 时曾坚信,他在苹果的经验——他一手打造的苹果商店现在已经是全美最赚钱的零售集团——将是一个巨大优势。J.C. Penney的董事会也这样认为;事实上,这是他们选择约翰逊的主要原因。约翰逊入主J.C. Penney后举行的首次派对不禁令人想起乔布斯的MacWorld大会;他给J.C. Penney公司的品牌和标识增添了干净、纯白的美感;他雇了几位来自苹果的老将;而且他不断谈到自己与乔布斯关系有多密切,反复提起苹果公司的处事方法。
Jobs was rightfully lionized as a creative genius, but he was also a fiercely competitive leader who simply could not bear to lose. That ferocity—plus a force of will that could convince just about anyone of anything—was referred to by people around him as his “reality distortion” field. And it is this trait that we see Johnson emulating in his attempt to convince the world that Penney was not, in fact, infringing upon Macy’s earlier agreement with Martha Stewart’s company.
乔布斯被奉为创意天才无可厚非,但他同时也是位好胜心爆棚的强势领导者。乔布斯的凶悍——加上几乎能说服所有人接受任何事的意志力——被他身边的人称之为乔布斯的“现实扭曲”力场。约翰逊正是效仿乔布斯的这个特质,试图让人们相信,J.C. Penney公司事实上并没有对梅西百货早前与玛莎o斯图沃特签署的协议形成侵权。
The emails presented as evidence in the case show a leader who had already convinced himself that he had won—regardless of the fact that even his own counsel worried about the deal’s legality. As Johnson wrote in an email to Daniel Walker, an Apple retail veteran he had hired at Penney: “I’m feeling awesome about grand strategy. I need to pull off Martha. I need to propose a deal so she can go to Terry [Lundgren] at Macy’s and break their agreement. That is the only issue in way of success at this point.” Johnson suggested, with some glee, that Lundgren would probably “have a headache,” when he heard about the JCP deal, one that would soon develop into a “full on migraine.”
作为证据提交给法院的电子邮件显示,约翰逊已经说服了自己,相信自己已经赢了,尽管连他自己的律师都担心这笔交易不合法。约翰逊在给J.C. Penney雇员、前苹果零售业务老员工丹尼尔o沃克的邮件中写道:“我对大战略感觉好极了。我得搞定玛莎。我得拿出好的交易,让她去跟梅西百货的(首席执行官)特里o伦德格伦终止合约。”约翰逊有些幸灾乐祸地暗示,伦德格伦听到J.C. Penney与玛莎的交易后估计要“头痛”了,而且很快会变成“重度偏头痛”。
The judge was clearly astonished by Johnson’s reaction after Martha Stewart announced to Lundgren that she had signed on with Penney. “Incredibly,” the judge wrote, “ignoring the seriousness of what had just transpired, Mr. Johnson wrote to [board member] William Ackman: ‘Media good as well. We put Terry in a corner. Normally when that happens and you get someone on the defensive they make bad decisions. This is good.’ And to board member Steven Roth, he wrote ‘…the more this is seen as brilliant for JCP and Martha the more he won’t want to interfere…’”
玛莎o斯图沃特告知伦德格伦自己与J.C. Penney签约之后,约翰逊作出的反应令翁家驹法官惊讶不已。法官写道:“简直令人难以置信,(约翰逊)完全无视事情的严重性。他在给(董事会成员)威廉o阿克曼的邮件中写道:‘媒体反响良好。我们把特里逼上了绝路。通常出现这种情况的时候,人们就会处于防御状态,往往会做出错误的决定。这是好事。’而在给董事会成员史蒂芬o罗斯的邮件中,约翰逊写道:“......外界越认为JCP和玛莎干得漂亮,他就越不会干涉……”
In fact, the opposite became true as a result of the company’s cavalier attitude, Oing observed. “Unbeknownst to Mr. Lundgren and Macy’s, Mr. Johnson’s attitude towards them with respect to JCP’s budding relationship with MSLO was take it or leave it. Mr. Johnson aptly described the scene as making JCP’s ‘offensive so strong’ that Macy’s would ‘simply pick up their toys and go home.’ JCP and Mr. Johnson could not have been more wrong.”
翁家驹法官表示,事实上,由于J.C. Penney的傲慢态度,事态在向着完全相反的方向发展。“伦德格伦先生和梅西百货所不知道的是,在JCP与玛莎公司初步确立合作关系这件事情上,约翰逊先生对他们的态度是“没得商量”。约翰逊先生显然一位,面对JCP‘如此猛烈的进攻’,梅西会‘乖乖地收拾玩具回家’。然而,JCP和约翰逊先生可谓大错特错。”
It is axiomatic that leaders must believe that they have made the right decisions. But as this case shows, believing that they are right does not make it so—no matter what Steve Jobs would have said.

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