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Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul Hardcover – 13 Apr 2011
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|Hardcover, 13 Apr 2011||
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a compelling story gripping stuff. (Management Today, May 2011).
the story of how [Howard] stabilised the company and brought it back to its core values. (Bookbag.co.uk, May 2011).
a tale of derring–do, traversing the globe and crowded with a cast of exceptional people the book is testament to [Howard s] drive and dedication. (Financial Times, May 2011).
The book is useful for anyone interested in leadership, management, and building a consumer brand. (The Market, May 2011).
an insight into the challenges faced by anyone keen to build a socially conscious business that is also highly profitable. (Director.co.uk, June 2011).
Schultz s story is incredible a book that shows big brands still have passionate beating hearts. (Management Today, September 2013)
From the Back Cover
On February 26, 2008, customers at 7,100 Starbucks stores in the US were asked to leave. For the next three hours every barista in every Starbucks was retrained in the art of making the perfect espresso. The act was unprecedented, but proof of just how dire things were becoming at a company that could once do no wrong.
For more than three decades, Starbucks had a storied history of being a great place to work, of ethically sourcing and roasting the highest–quality coffee beans, and of crafting beverages for millions of customers who went to Starbucks for coffee and for a sense of community. But by 2008, after years of focusing on rapid expansion, the traits that made Starbucks successful were in jeopardy. Sales started to slide at a distressing rate. The stock price was falling. The company′s very survival was at risk.
To address the emerging problems, former chief executive officer Howard Schultz, who had stepped aside almost eight years earlier to become chairman after growing Starbucks from 11 stores to thousands, did something no one expected: He returned as CEO to oversee day–to–day operations. His goal was not just to stabilize the company, but to transform it by refocusing on core values and reigniting the innovation required to thrive in a dramatically shifting marketplace, all while fending off harsh critics and huge competitors.
Schultz came back with passion and a plan, and in the course of two years–even in the face of painful revelations about internal troubles and a worsening economy–Starbucks astonishingly returned to sustainable, profitable growth.
Onward is the remarkable story of that transformation. Schultz offers readers an extraordinarily intimate look at his daily decision–making process, from closed–door planning sessions in Seattle, to conversations with coffee farmers in Rwanda, to investor presentations in New York during the worst of the economic turmoil.
Onward is more than just a business book. Personally inspiring and unexpectedly candid, it brings a dramatic story to life with the emotional power and narrative suspense of a novel.
"Through the lens of his personal leadership journey, with all of its dizzying ups and agonizing downs, Howard Schultz has written, with aching honesty and passion, the single most important book on leadership and change for our time and for every generation of leaders. This book is not just recommended reading, it′s required."
Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and author of the recently published Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership
"Howard Schultz′s refreshingly candid, compelling narrative demonstrates what it takes to lead in these extraordinary times. Onward is a rare firsthand account of how one of the world′s most iconic brands overcame the challenges that confront us all."
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
"The second toughest thing in business is building a successful enterprise–the toughest is to engineer a turnaround and still maintain the core culture and values of the organization. This is a classic example of how it can be done. Howard has proven it′s not enough to be smart or well intentioned–sustained success will not occur without true passion from the very top!"
Jim Sinegal, cofounder and CEO of Costco
Starred Review: "[This] sequel to the founding of Starbucks is grittier, more gripping, and dramatic, and [Schultz′s] voice is winning and authentic. This is a must–read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer."
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Written like a marketing diatribe, it is insipid, doesn't inspire, lacks heart, and is boring. I also didn't learn very much about coffee or business - other than "passion" is somehow important to Starbucks. Even the parts of the book that were meant to be inspiring, such as when part of the mission statement is read out by various adoring managers and "partners" at a convention had me putting my fingers down the back of my throat. I found myself far more interested in those family vacations to Hawaii, which always seemed to coincide with those taken by other CEOs such as Michael Dell - they say birds of a feather flock together, but I can't imagine anything worse than taking a holiday where all you seem to do is talk shop with other Alpha Males, go for 30 mile bike rides, and fiddle with your Blackberry.
All in all this book on Howard Schultz's attempt to reclaim Starbucks, and guide it towards a glorious future, left me as cold as a cup of brewed coffee. And here's why. The Starbucks described in this book is the polar opposite of the one I know from my own experience. For example, I had to stop visiting my local Starbucks because they kept getting it wrong. On nearly every visit I either got the wrong size, the wrong drink, or someone else took my drink order by mistake. The place was a shambles. I gave up and went to Costa or Cafe Nero instead. It's a shame because I generally like the shop design and you can get a half-decent Americano there.
Against my better judgement I recently revisited Starbucks when a new Drive Thru was opened on the route of my commute. I guess my mindset was "how bad can it be?". The answer: pretty bad. I parked up and entered on foot, eschewing the drive through experience. First the staff could not understand me (I have an ordinary English accent), so it took about three attempts to order my drink. I tried to strike up a conversation about how they liked the auto Espresso machines compared to the old manual, and then again about the Pike Place Roast, but it was hopeless. They either didn't understand me or didn't know what I was talking about. The other problem was that because it was a drive thru each barista was wearing a headset (to process drive through orders I assume). This is very disconcerting as while they are serving you they will suddenly start speaking and sometimes it's hard to know whether they are speaking to you or talking to themselves! Weird. Despite the fact I was the first customer in the store (at around 6.30am) they asked my name to write on the drink. Fair enough. Imagine my amusement when I collected my drink and noticed that they had still got my name completely wrong! (Slap forehead moment).
Also, I find all this talk of "partners" patronizing. Let's be honest about this, Starbucks baristas are low-paid workers in the fast food industry. The Starbucks I've visited have done nothing to persuade me otherwise. I've only ever experienced poor service and poor real knowledge of the products beyond the superficial. This is all part of a deliberate effort to keep down costs and drive up profit - so much for the "passion" for serving customers.
I think the Starbucks that Schultz describes in his book did exist once, even in the UK, about twenty years ago. Back in those days Starbucks did offer a very special experience, but I can't help feel those days will never return, and this book does nothing to make me feel otherwise.
But from page 1 there is such a high degree of honesty in this book.
How Howard Schultz had a clear vision and then fought to see that vision shine through.
A lot of practical management ideas and theories are considered, there are some wonderful sections which I have had to highlight and keep coming back to.
In summary, an awesome book, well written, excellent management theories and inspiration.
However, having just visited my local Starbuck, they still have a long way to go.
But what we learn form the book is they know that.
Recommended - no make that, Highly Recommended.
As a contrast to this story I liked much more Sam Walton's take on Walmart which felt more sincere.
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