IMAG7863 Leading the Starbucks WayDr. Joseph Michelli is a famous author, known for the books the Starbucks Experience and his most recent book, Leading the Starbucks Way.  He writes about organizational excellence, and has authored a total of five books.

His most recent publication is Leading the Starbucks Way, which talks about five principles for connecting with customers, products, and people.  The five principles are as follows:

  1. Savor and Elevate
  2. Love to be Loved
  3. Reach for Common Ground,
  4. Mobilize the Connection
  5. Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy

Throughout the book, there are short stories to illustrate how Starbucks has developed consistency in the experience, and grown it attachment with customers beyond the brick and mortar stores.  The short stories illustrate the five principles.

One of my favorite stories in the book was about the development of the shaken iced tea.  It seems like such a simple thing – shake tea with lemonade in tea shakers – but a great deal of thought went into making sure that the iced tea experience would be consistent time after time.  Joseph Michelli interviewed Kevin Petrisko, a 16-year Starbucks partner, who worked in product development developing the iced tea beverages.  (I also liked this story because I’ve met Kevin Petrisko several times – he is a still a Starbucks partner, though now working with the development and growth of Evolution Fresh).

First, Kevin tells about the importance of the consistency of the beverage no matter where the customer is.  “From the consumer side of trust, they [customers] want to know they’ll get the same beverage if they go to Starbucks in San Antonio, Honolulu, or Paris.”  The book continues:

According to Kevin, “We had iced tea at Starbucks, but it really wasn’t a finished, handcrafted product like a beautiful latte.  In previous versions, we poured tea from a pitcher directly into a cup, and its presentation was rather ordinary.  So the original goal was to combine tea with juice or lemonade to see if we could create something very different and explore if we could also provide a more enriched experience in the process.” In order to deliver the shaken tea product, implementation teams had to design a shaker, establish the optimal build process, and establish training tools for the ease of product introduction in the stores.

Kevin notes, “As we tested the product, we were hearing from customers about noticeable variation.  We’d given the partner tea shakers and said, ‘Mix the tea with the lemonade, add syrups as appropriate to the recipe, and shake the blend for 10 seconds.  You will then pop the lid off the shaker and the pour the hand-shaken drink in the cup; It’s going to be a beautiful beverage.”

According to Kevin, an unsuspected issue emerged through the evaluative process, “What we learned was that the inconsistencies came from our partners not knowing how to shake the beverage,” he explains.  “It sounds kind of silly, but 10 seconds allows for considerable variability, as some partners were shaking it for closer to 20 seconds and others for 5 seconds.  As it turns out, that time difference in shaking made a big difference how the beverage tasted.  So we changed the protocol so that partners are to shake the tea 10 times.  As you result, now you walk into our stores and you can still see partners shaking tea (and counting to themselves 1 through 10).  That adjustment has made a big difference in product consistency.”

I almost never do any kind of book recommendations or book reviews on this blog, but I do want to recommend Leading the Starbucks Way and/or the Starbucks Experience by Dr. Joseph Michelli.  You’ve gotten just a tiny taste of the interesting stories in the book which tie in to the way that Starbucks leads.  If by chance you’re going to order these books, please consider using the widget in the right-side column of this blog.  Scroll down to the bottom of the right-side column.

I think I have to tell you that the publisher of this book sent me a free copy.  It didn’t influence this review.  I had bought the first book, The Starbucks Experience, and would have definitely bought this book if it hadn’t been sent directly to me.

The official Joseph Michelli webpage is here.  And if you want to follow him on Twitter, here is his profile.  Hope I’ve given you food for thought for some good reading material.