I have to give it up for Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz. Recently, Schultz sent out an extremely open and honest memo to his executives sharing some concerns and raising questions about how Starbucks has begun operating many of their new stores.
A few quotes from the memo:
"Over the past ten years...we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.
...when we went to automatic espresso machines....we overlooked the fact that we would remove much of the romance and theatre...
This, coupled with the need for fresh roasted coffee...moved us toward the decision and the need for flavor locked packaging. Again, the right decision at the right time, and once again I believe we overlooked the cause and the affect of flavor lock in our stores. We achieved fresh roasted bagged coffee, but at what cost?
...one of the results has been stores that no longer have the soul of the past and reflect a chain of stores vs. the warm feeling of a neighborhood store. ...let me say at the outset that we have all been part of these decisions. I take full responsibility myself, but we desperately need to look into the mirror and realize it's time to get back to the core and make the changes necessary to evoke the heritage, the tradition, and the passion that we all have for the true Starbucks experience."
As I read his memo, I couldn't help but think about how many CEO's, pastors, business leaders, etc... have either become blinded by the reality of decline or are too proud to honestly and openly admit that mistakes have been made and that change is indeed necessary.
I've got a lot of respect for Howard Schultz and this just further reminds me of why I think Starbucks will continue to grow, innovate and expand for many, many more years. And it's all because their leader isn't afraid to be brutally honest with himself, those closest to him and the customers they are here to serve.