Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Starbucks as a Leadership Case Study: Efficiency, Effectiveness or Both?

ARCHIVES

Been to a Starbucks lately? If so, what do you think? If you're a long time Starbucker, how does the experience in the stores lately compare with the way things were four or five years ago?

What do any of these questions have to do with leadership, you ask? (After all, that's what this blog is supposed to be about.) Here's where I'm coming from.

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about how Starbucks is starting a company-wide program to implement the concepts of lean manufacturing to raise the efficiency and productivity of its stores. In a tight economy, it's understandable why Starbucks or any organization would focus on controlling its costs.

I'm reminded, however, of a point Stephen Covey made years ago in the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His point was the you can be efficient with things (e.g. the design of the workspace or where to place ingredients in the production line) but you have to be effective with people (e.g. customers and baristas). As someone quoted in the WSJ article pointed out, efficiency strategies only yield profitability if you're getting customers in the door in the first place.

That brings us to the effectiveness part of the equation. One of the original goals of Starbucks founding (and current) CEO Howard Schultz was to create a "third place" between work and home that people could use to meet, work and hang out. For me personally, this concept worked so well that when I wrote my book, The Next Level, in 2005, I spent the better part of 12 weekends in a row at a local Starbucks writing the manuscript. For me, it was the right mix of being in a different place, being around people and still being able to work, and the endless supply of drinks, sandwiches and oatmeal raisin cookies that I needed to power through the writing process. The place was packed with customers all weekend long.

What I've noticed lately is that people don't seem to be using Starbucks as that third place location as much anymore. (You'd actually thing that in a recessionary economy they might be using Starbucks more as a meeting place for networking and such but it doesn't seem that way.) Have you noticed the same thing? Maybe the leadership emphasis on efficiency is out of balance with an emphasis on effectiveness.

Let's say that you were appointed as the new "guru of effectiveness with people" for Starbucks, where would you start in returning the company's stores to that magnetic status of being the "third place"?

From a broader leadership perceptive, what do you notice in your own organization about striking the right balance between efficiency and effectiveness? Especially in a tough economy, what are your best ideas for keeping your customers and employees engaged with your organization? Let's get a conversation going on this and see what good ideas we have to share with each other. Who knows, we may even come up with some that our friends at Starbucks want to pick up and run with.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.