Analyzing the Purpose of Starbucks Training

Starbucks training and values

Dan Pontefract gave a good rundown of the recent continent-wide racial-bias training that Starbucks developed and delivered in record time. Starbucks reacted in an exemplary manner, but has the training achieved the goal?

Unless we tacitly agree that the actual goal of Starbucks was to stomp out the public-relations wildfire, their expensive exercise has not changed anything. Not exactly a knee-jerk reaction – but far from being effective in resolving the actual problem.

Here’s what I would consider – if Starbucks want to live up to their image of the “third place”.

Update your mission statement.

Your mission statement is more important than you may think. This is your overall Goal, your Purpose. It drives your staff, so it better be clear to them. I would leave the second, the “neighborhood” part of the Starbucks current mission statement – but would definitely clarify the first half in such a way that it becomes meaningful to their staff AND customers.

Align regional and individual store KPIs with the new mission.

How would you measure your progress otherwise? So far, there’s nothing better than revenue and cost of sales. No wonder that the only available “indicator” of the recent nation-wide training effectiveness was the estimated cost of lost sales. How do you know if the situation has improved?

And Starbucks NEED to monitor the situation now because many scientists openly state that Mandatory Implicit Bias Training Is a Bad Idea. Even the founding fathers of the approach, psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Brian Nosek are very skeptical because there is no scientific evidence that these programs work and make a lasting positive impact on behaviors. Indeed, the impact of such a ready-made, one-size-fits-all training may be harmful. It is more complicated than SJWs would like to admit.

Even if we assume that the training has some positive impact, it is far from what Starbucks needs in the longer run.

If you train your child saying “Hi” to your neighbor, it will not automatically make him gentle with his sister and respectful with Grandma. Instilling behaviors that deny racial differences will not correct other problems like sexism, ageism – basically all “-isms” – that will inevitably manifest themselves and cause further problems to Starbucks, now that the company is in the spotlight.

What will work then?

Whether we like that or not, our unconscious biases are the core of our survival mechanisms that so far helped us survive as a species. They are in our genes. Being earthly creatures, we will not eliminate them because they help us process the incoming information through patterns etc. In fact, you are using your unconscious biases while reading and understanding this text.

We may be able to bypass or at least tone down some of our biases naturally. For Starbucks, that will mean creating the right environment within the shop teams. These teams must be aligned (a) internally and (b) with their immediate neighbourhood (where most of the customers coming from). Internal alignment and the appropriate cultural, gender, racial, age mix will decrease the subconscious, or implicit, reaction to all ‘outgroups’ as psychologists call them – i.e. people who are “not like us” – as we gradually adapt to our immediate work environment.

It is a long and tedious process. It needs to be initiated by the corporate leaders as it starts with a clear company mission.

Canada Cost Post-Saving Math

Freising, Munich area, Germany

(On the photo, a post(wo)man delivering mail to the residents of Freising, Munich area)

Door-to-door mail delivery to urban customers has been phased out in Canada in the last five years.

This was a major cost-saving initiative of Canada Post. As a performance improvement specialist, I doubt its value for Canadians.  Without a doubt, there is a better way to improve efficiency, instead of going into this cost cutting death spiral, as Tom Peters put it in his book “The Excellence Dividend.”

Since 2013, the only rationale offered by the Crown Corporation was that two-thirds of Canadians don’t have mail delivered right to their doors already, so the other five million should not complain. And a local public servant obligingly added at the time that this is even better for the elderly citizens – to have a daily walk to the communal “super-mailbox”…

But I digress. Let’s just do the math. Continue reading “Canada Cost Post-Saving Math”

Canoeing with Mintzberg

Canoeing with Mintzberg

The CoachingOurselves Reflections 2017 – Rebalancing Society conference was an outstanding 3-day event filled with ideas, presentations and passion shared with us by the brightest minds: Henry MintzbergPhilip KotlerDan PonterfractEd ScheinJonathan GoslingMitch Joel and many other prominent thinkers, businesspeople and coaches.

This true feast of sustainable leadership was concluded with a savory dessert – The Great Canadian Canoe Trip, five hours in double canoes going down the Devil’s River in Mont-Tremblant National Park.

Now, mentally going through the experience again, I think that this trip in the end of the conference was more than just for pleasure and relaxation. The unbridled nature, the canoes, and the river flow – all have their profound role in the understanding and “internalization” of the worldview experienced during the main event.

Here are my key takeaways from the Canoe Trip.

1.      Key safety rules in the canoe are familiar to every manager:

  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Go with the flow.

Nothing new, but that does not mean “don’t rock the boat”; it’s just that any disruption creates unnecessary risks and may lead to an accident, and is not necessary when you are on the right course.

2.      The real leader in the canoe, the helmsman, is the paddler in the stern. He is the more experienced one, doing the steering. Leading from behind, he will be looking over the front paddler’s shoulder all the time, and if the latter does not have a small frame and wears a hat, the helmsman will not see much. Continue reading “Canoeing with Mintzberg”