Scott Hodge


Brutally Honest

Feb 28, 2007

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

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.

Link to memo.

7 Responses to “Brutally Honest”

  1. FP says:

    you are so right, my friend. humility is key and that’s one reason why they will continue to grow. brutal facts and going back to our core mission, i think we all gotta learn from that. scott, i wish you lived closer to one of our starbucks!!! :)

  2. Erik says:

    great post! man the church needs to take note of openness and the willingness of self-evaluation. It is a tough thing to look back and see the way we’ve deviated and have the guts to get things back on track with the core values that started everything. thanks for the memo…

  3. Rob says:

    How about free wifi…did he talk about that!
    And yes, humility, I sure could have some more of that!

  4. Ryan says:

    I worked for the Bucks for about 4 years and one of the things I really enjoyed about my time there was there honesty and their constant desire to grow, learn, and improve all they do!

  5. emma says:

    Well thats encouraging… I’m glad the company still has some soul, I gotta be honest I’m not a huge fan, but it’s encouraging all the same!

  6. Allen Arnn says:

    Agree… we all need to confront life, church, business with brutal honesty. I like how Schultz is paying attention to the small things, the nuances that make a big difference. It’s similar in a way to this.

  7. Mike Zook says:

    What a great reminder! It is easy to get swept up into the lies & the compromises that the world throws at us constantly. They are small and often and when we are faced with them we decide, “Yeah, that seems reasonable, I can do that.” Then little be little we veer of course. It is important to stop, look back, look forward and make sure that you are still headed in the right direction.

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