Book Review - The Starbucks Experience - July 2007

The Starbucks Experience

Book: The Starbucks Experience - Five Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary
Author: Joseph A. Michelli
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Length: 201 pages
Reviewer: Dale Deardorff

As with a great cup of coffee that must be sipped to appreciate the full flavor, aroma and taste, this book should be read slowly to appreciate the valuable insights for everyone on transformational leadership. It is a short read which discusses the need for great leaders to not only grow their businesses but in that process that they should expand their concept of community.

Starbucks recognized in recent years that the success and validation they had achieved in conducting their business could possibly provide insights for others to model. Joseph Michelli to that end has captured a mix of personal stories and business strategies that can be absorbed to create positive customer interactions. These positive interactions are grounded from the Five Key Starbucks Principles and simple tenants of:

1)  Make it Your Own – Look for options rather than saying “NO” and you will be rewarded with a creative spirit.

2)  Everything Matters – And so does “Everyone” if you expect to exceed your customers experience even when things go wrong.
3)  Surprise and Delight – By coloring outside the lines your customers can receive exceptional experiences.
4)  Embrace Resistance – Never try to “beat them”, always “Join Them” to create a culture of patience for change.
5)  Leave Your Mark – The difference between good and “Great” can often be the willingness of Leadership to structure surprising moments around calendar opportunities.

The enrichment of the workplace is embraced by an encouragement for all Starbucks partners to use their own unique style to produce inviting customer encounters by being genuine thru connection, discovery and response.  This creates a sense of community that is increasingly rare in modern organizations. Not only do they contribute to the communities they service but they hold Starbucks leadership accountable and measure this commitment thru their Community Service Annual Reports

It is proposed that knowledge is power and that the more an employee knows about a product the greater the difference that individual can make in a customers life. For those of us that think that coffee is only about proportion, grind, water and freshness sit back while this book brews a culture of Extraordinary People, Service and Rich Human Spirit.

The Starbucks experience for many is only about the consistency of the products but for others it’s about an emotional connection. Within the leadership staff is a system that holds them accountable for commitments of sharing the reward of hard work and ultimately the personal atmosphere of profitability. Starbucks does have company espoused values that they provide to everyone thru the Vision-to-Mission flowdown into the Barista training and the challenge to inspire passion & creativity in their work. The bottom line is “Profitability” but it is with alignment to the interests of the workers as they strive daily to create millions of positive interactions.

The Leadership at Starbucks is asked to be open to innovation as long as the idea is true to the original Mission of their company. They are asked to routinely appreciate when they are wrong, to admit it, to fix the problem and stay the course in areas where they are making a positive difference. Strong challenges but essential when you are asked to “Strive to Leave a Mark” creating a company that exceeds the expectations of the customer, employee, and the community they serve.

The Starbucks experience which is proclaimed on each product is based on a perspective that great leadership is little more than making consistent sound compromises, and that fear is often the emotion that fuels the greatest resistance to growing companies. So the next time your in a Starbucks remember that they are ready for any order…half calf….double pump…any anything you want that will make the experience truly memorable for you. Remember on your next visit and you drive or walk in and the Barista say’s “Hello” …that they are ready to make a new recommendation or create a new exceptional experience based upon creating a memorable personal connection