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Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul Paperback – March 27, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
"Onward" surprised me, however. I learned a couple of things about Starbucks that I simply hadn't heard about before, such as their Clover brewing system available in some stores. It's a nifty vacuum brewing system developed by a couple of tinkerers in Seattle. (If you visit their website, you can search for stores nearby that have one.) The history of the development of their instant coffee (excuse me, "water soluble coffee"), Via, was also pretty interesting... I won't spoil it, but let's say that it wasn't an overnight discovery. There are definitely a few other "hey, that's kinda cool" stories in here too.
I won't say, however, that I learned anything from "Onward" as a business/leadership/management book. To be perfectly honest, I don't have much experience reading such types of books, so maybe I wasn't reading it with the right "eye" so to speak -- it was more of leisure reading than anything else. But to this untrained leader, it just didn't seem like there was much there beyond the basics that everyone really should know (humility, listening to people, etc.). Then again, since so many companies do those things poorly, maybe even the basics need to be repeated.
In any case, "Onward" was an enjoyable read and well worth the couple of bucks I paid for it.
Howard Schultz is the passionate CEO of Starbucks. He loves coffee. He loves the company that he grew into the ubiquitous purveyor of coffee worldwide. Sometimes, his company even makes a good cup of coffee. As a business, it is hard to argue with their success. Until 2007, Starbucks was a consistent growth company, which kept expanding and expanding. In 2007/2008, they hit a wall. Quality declined. Customer satisfaction declined. Revenues didn't grow. After retiring as CEO earlier in the decade, Schultz convinced himself and his board that he should be brought back to reinvigorate the company. In dramatic fashion, he shutdown all of the stores for a day to retrain the staff (i.e., "partners") on how to make coffee; he disposed of the hot sandwiches that were stinking up the stores; and, he closed many unprofitable locations. What he wouldn't do is cut back on the quality of the coffee or benefits for employees. Those were values near and dear to him. The turnaround succeeded and the company found its groove again.
The results for the company were impressive. The boldness of Schultz's moves are noteworthy. Shutting an entire chain of retail stores for a day was a bold move.Read more ›
The most interesting aspect of this account, for me, is that it serves as a perfect illustration of how annoying American upper managament can be. Nothing is ever good enough or fast enough for this man. Everyone has to passionately commit. Everything has to be better than last year, last week, yesterday. Everything has to be done by yesterday!
The newly revamped Starbucks may be wonderful, but it is unsustainable, as is most of the American corporate model. A classic example of this is the author's breathless account of someone coming up with a good idea on a flight back to Seattle and his pride in the fact that he was able to approve the concept and get committment to a date from others on the ground so that by the time they arrived everything was in place. Would it have been such a catastrophe if everyone had taken a day to think it all through? There is a great deal of this kind of thing in this book, and in my experience dealing with American business, such freneticism is all too common.
There is a great deal of pride expressed here in doing more with less - but that cannot go on forever.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Too much rah rah for Starbucks throughout the book. I appreciate his management philosophy, but the over-the-top cheerleading for Starbucks gets tiring.Published 5 days ago by Terry Gillingham
The passion of Howard.
The knife shop and our respect for our crafts.
Guiding principles for the culture. Read more
Great book. A very interesting take on how Starbucks came back from the brink of disaster.Published 1 month ago by Nicholas Thompson
I enjoyed reading about how it is possible to have a huge corporate company which has integrity and looks after its people and the environment. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hanna Kok
An amazing story that shows how important it is to create a culture in a company and stick with it's values.Published 1 month ago