On January 29, 2014, Starbucks announced major changes in their leadership structure.  The official Starbucks newsroom article is here.  I don’t usually just reiterate Starbucks newsroom information but this one is particularly interesting and significant.

Starbucks provided more details at a conference call on January 29, 2014, which can be streamed at the Starbucks investor relations page.  Troy Alstead, who previously was the Chief Financial Officer, will become the Chief Operating Officer effective February 3, 2014.  This means that he will be responsible for all the day-to-day operations at Starbucks.

Howard Schultz moves into a new position shifting his focus to innovation.  He described it as such:

Let me briefly highlight the moves that we are making today with specificity with regards to the organization.  In partnership with our senior leadership team, including Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman, and Chief Strategy Officer Matt Ryan, I will expand my day-to-day focus on all things innovation, including coffee and tea, but with an emphasis on the Starbucks Experience that will really thread into all things digital: digital payments, areas of digital, mobile card, loyalty, and e-commerce. I think I spoke at length last week about the seismic shift in consumer behavior.  That was not a December anomaly.  That is going to happen, and happen quickly.  And we believe strongly that any and all bricks-and-mortar retailers must understand, and must embrace this.  And we are sitting with a set of assets that is  unparallelled.  The investments have been made, and now we’re going to ladder that up in ways that I think will add significant value not only to a new stream of revenue, but in doing so create more stickiness, more loyalty and more frequency inside our core business, as we really leverage the flywheel of Starbucks.  I will also continue to work closely with our senior leadership team to continue to drive disciplined growth and operational excellence around the world, while ensuring that our next wave of growth is achieved through demonstration of our mission and values.  With regard to Troy, first and foremost, let me personally congratulate on the promotion of Chief Operating Officer.  With my focus on the next wave of growth, it is my pleasure to announce the promotion of Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead to the newly-created position of Chief Operating Officer.  The addition of a COO will provide me more time to focus on innovation and strategic initiatives, while at the same time enable us to continuing sharpening our day-to-day operational focus and elevating Starbucks’ unique customer experience. In his new role, Troy will continue to report to me and will be responsible for aligning and prioritizing company investments across business units.  The group presidents, Cliff Burrows who leads the U.S., Americas, and Teavana, and John Culver, who leads China, Asia, Pacific, and Channel Development and Emerging Brands, will now report to Troy along with EMEA president Kris Engskov.  The company’s new CFO, who I will discuss next, will also report to Troy, as well as his existing senior direct reports who lead the company’s global technology and global supply chain organizations. I couldn’t be more grateful of, or proud of Troy for his significant contributions to Starbucks over the past 22 years.  And I look forward to working with him for many more.  I would also like to thank Cliff and John for all they’ve done to make Starbucks record fiscal ’13 and Q1 possible. I look forward to continue partnering with John and Cliff as trusted members of our senior leadership team.”

This is not “about succession planning, and it is definitely not about me leaving, or planning to leave the company,” said Howard Schultz at an investor’s conference.

So the shift appears to be all about innovation.  What innovation do you envision in the future of Starbucks?