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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

 

Onward by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon - Book review




Onward

How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul


By: Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon

Published: March 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN-10: 1605292885
ISBN-13: 978-1605292885
Publisher: Rodale Books












"Starbucks has always been about so much more than coffee. But without great coffee, we have no reason to exist", writes founder and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, with reporter for Forbes magazine, Joanne Gordon, in their inspirational and business lesson packed book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. The authors describe the challenge, undertaken by returning CEO Howard Schultz, to returning Starbucks to its roots as the means to facilitating a successful turnaround of the company.



Howard Schultz (photo left) with Joanne Gordon write what is really a love story. Howard Schultz, as founder of CEO of the famous chain of Starbucks coffee houses, is faced with restoring the flagging company back to its former glory and leadership in the industry. After eight years away from the company, Starbucks appeared to have lost its direction, and was losing both customer support and share value. The outlook wasn't good for the iconic brand, and Howard Schultz accepted the daunting task of rebuilding the company's tarnished brand image. To achieve that goal, Howard Schultz took the unusual step of returning to the organization's core values, and the reestablishing source of the company's pride. With this understanding of the human values embodied in the brand, its products, its customers, and its employees, Howard Schultz recreated the original company success story through an emphasis on values. This was a complete reversal of the focus on only growth and financial metrics that had led the organization away from its former path. The CEO re-instituted the human side of the company, along with its guiding principles, and that made all of the difference.



Joanne Gordon (photo left) and Howard Schultz point to the founding philosophy of Starbucks as a touchstone that formed the foundation of the turnaround. Howard Schultz holds the conviction that the sole purpose of a company is not just bottom line profitability. To truly be a successful corporation, the culture must also develop and live values that transcend the monetary concerns. One of those values is social conscience, and Starbucks had let that principle slip to the back burner. Howard Schultz reignited the flame of the organization's culture of humanity, and with it recreated the success of the corporation. At the same time, as CEO, he also reopened the ideas and innovations that created so many successful products, engaged the staff and customers, and transformed the organization back to its more human based roots. Along with social conscience, the company returned to the following values:

* Respect and dignity
* Passion and laughter
* Compassion, community, and responsibility
* Authenticity
* A great coffee experience

For me, the power of the book is how Howard Schultz, along with Joanne Gordon, convey a love story, a business story, and a very personal journey, all at once. For Howard |Schultz, the Starbucks brand has always represented values and humanity. When discussing company turnarounds, these important principles are so often overlooked, or even dismissed as irrelevant. For Howard Schultz, the recognition of the critical importance of people engaged in something larger than themselves leads to greatness. That important business lesson has been lost in recent years, and Starbucks slid away from that concept as well. A valuable lesson conveyed in the book is that a focus on growth and metrics will not succeed if the company fails to live a social and human mission. Instead of growth and stronger numbers, without the core values as a cornerstone, Starbucks lost customers and share value. The brand image lost its luster.

Howard Schultz also conveys a personal story of soul searching, difficult choices, and agonizing decisions. The resulting group of layoffs and store closures was not done without pain and intensive study and thought. The key lesson is that Howard Schultz was always guided in his choices and decisions by the core values of the company. With the humanity slowly being drained from the company culture, both is staff and the customer base, a strong return to human values was critical to the turnaround success.

The commitment to excellence was demonstrated by the crucial decision to close down all of the stores and rediscover the art of making and presenting the perfect espresso. This decisive action sent the message to all employees and customers that the Starbucks value system was back and central to the company's plans and service. The result was a resounding success. Principles and core values, when lived by the entire company, every employee, and every customer are good business. That is a lesson that companies need to to take to heart and practice to the fullest. It worked very well indeed for Howard Schultz and for Starbucks.

I highly recommend the landmark and must read book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon, to anyone seeking a deeper insight into the soul of a great company, or a richer understanding of the value of living the organization's core principles as a guiding philosophy. This book teaches business leaders that value driven companies are highly successful companies that will stand the test of time.

Read the destined to become classic book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon, and discover the key importance of humanity and core values in corporate strategy. Companies that are built on love are successful companies that with brands that endure. Starbucks is a valuable lesson in the success of a values driven organization, that almost lost its way, but returned to greatness with a reestablishment of its guiding core values as touchstones to live by.

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Comments:
"Uncle Howie", you are such an inspiration to me. I'm not an employee or a regular customer so I'm speaking without bias. I'm totally intrigued with your honesty of admitting there is a problem with SB. On top of that, you want to fix the problem and not simply patch it up. Going back to "basics" is something lots of people forget to do these days. Lose focus as some may call it. Your courage to still go ahead and do what you believe is most admirable. All this is based upon your passion and wanting to share it with the everyone. I can't wait to finish reading the book. I am learning so much from you. Hopefully I will meet you in person one day.
Thank you for sharing your passion.
AG
 
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