Greed has never served anyone well, and in the case of businesses it breeds overconfidence, entitlement and a sense of invincibility.
Case in point: Starbucks. In his book Onward, Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz lays out the factors that led the company astray in the years 2000 to 2007.
Howard describes the damage as being “slow and quiet” and says, “Obsessed with growth, we took our eye off operations and became distracted from the core of the business”. These errors in operation additionally came at the most imperfect of times as the company headed straight into a recession.
Having stepped down as CEO in 2000 to assume the role of Chairman, Schultz returned as CEO in January 2008. Onward is the story of what happened next.
Many people will recall the news in February 2008, when Starbucks made an unprecedented move to close all of their stores for one full day of training. ?An action that was unprecedented for any company.
Each of the 7,100 U.S. stores had a note on the door reading “We’re taking time to perfect our espresso. Great espresso requires practice. That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honing our craft.”
Espresso after all is what Schultz fell in love with when he started in the business.
“Pouring espresso is an art,”?he states. “One that requires the barista to care about the quality of the beverage.”
Schultz passion for his business is clear, sometimes to a fault as many senior Starbucks partners can attest to when listening to Schultz speak from the heart.
This was especially upsetting as Schultz’s criticism of his company having “lost its way” went against the figures.
Stock price, earnings, shareholder confidence and store openings were all positive. But Schultz was right, the company had lost its way, or more pertinently, its soul.
For many of us, myself included, Starbucks is a part of our daily lives.
Onward is Schultz’s commitment to staying in our lives and continuing to be that special ‘third place’ away from home and work.