I recently read Howard Shultz’s latest book, Onward. While some of it was overlap from another book I read of his back in 2007, this book focused on the last few years of Starbucks’ journey through the down economy. I’m not a die hard coffee fan but I enjoyed the journey he described in coming back as the CEO after the company found itself backed up against a wall. A giant company as big as Starbucks often brings the appearance that it is too big to fail, but Howard acknowledges how this doesn’t compute.
“How could one imperfect cup of coffee, one unqualified manager, or one poorly located store matter when millions of cups of coffee were being served in tens of thousands of stores? We forgot that ‘ones’ add up.”
“Ones” add up for all of us regardless of the size of the organization you are a part of. This is especially true when viewed as the church and the fact that we must focus on God transforming one person at a time. Admittedly, I’m not a Starbucks fanatic, but hearing Howard’s insights into running a company with excellence are easy to apply to whatever it is that you find yourself involved with.
“A store manager’s job is not to oversee millions of customer transactions a week, but one transaction millions of times a week.”
“Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become.”
Howard also does a good job at explaining the different mistakes that they made and how they learned from them. There were a few times when I would read about something that Starbucks created (that I’d never heard of) and ask my wife if she knew about it. Often times she didn’t. Then I’d keep reading and realize that that product flopped and they discontinued it. I would have never known about that particular “failure” if Howard didn’t bring it up. This shows his humility as well as his uncompromising drive to continually improve and learn. Things like Mazagran, Sorbetto, and the dismal condition of their supply chain organization (SCO).
“Celebrate, learn from, and do not hide from mistakes.”
Howard summarized what he learned through the process of restoring the company back to health over the last few years:
“Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and overcommunicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.”