Starbucks and Their Story of the Stormy Seas

I stopped in for two grande chai tea lattés this morning and it reminded me I had this post brewing (groan! groan!). After reading Pour Your Heart Into It a few years ago I’ve appreciated the story behind the ubiquitous white and green coffee shop and am thankful for the European experience we can find on nearly every corner – Starbucks and others. So when I saw a tweet advertising that Howard Schultz would be in town to speak I jumped on the opportunity to attend.

He shared many of the insights captured in this McKinsey interview plus more. Here were a few gems that stayed with me:

  • How the stores’ focus on “comp store sales” metrics compromised the underlying values of the company.
  • Before their national store manager meeting each person performed five hours of community service in the community that would be hosting them (New Orleans) to remind people we can profit and give back.
  • He spoke of how leaders must have the courage to trust the people, and that if you see something inconsistent with the values then you become part of the problem.
  • You must have the leadership courage to take the big swing. Being curious is not enough.
  • You can’t build a great business by only focusing on the customers. It’s also about the employees. Human Resources must be involved and have a seat at the big table.
  • Business and companies will have to do more; a safety net for their people and do more for communities because governments won’t be able to (shared in the context of rising debt levels in Canada and the US and states who are in trouble of not meeting their pension commitments).
  • How the company must beware the seduction of short term results and engage in the fragile balance profit and social conscience.
  • People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s not about motivation, but focusing on the right thing.

Thanks Howard and the Vancouver Board of Trade for a great Thursday lunch hour. Bonus: the VBOT has a lovely recap here.

What’s one thing you could do tomorrow for your employees? What are you focusing on that has the unintended consequence of compromising values and how could you change that?