Why Mistakes aren’t a big deal…

21 Apr

So I’ve just started reading Onward, by Howard Schultz. Onward, is the story of Starbucks- though not the story of how it grew to great success, but rather to how they are turning around after their stumble in 2007. I’m only about 60 pages into the book, but I’ve already marked several quotes that I think are great, specifically this one:

“This is why, I think, so many companies fail. Not because of challenges in the marketplace, but because of challenges on the inside.” (pg. 51 on my Nook).

Lines like this are so ridiculously true and not said often enough. If you spend all your time looking to what competition is doing, you are no longer the leader, or the innovator, or the niche provider- but the follower. I don’t care who has the largest market share or how high their revenue reports are. If you choose not to focus on who you are and why you are successful, you will inevitably be knocked off course. The key question, I truly believe, is asking yourself what makes you work?

On this blog, I won’t talk specifics about where I work. Though it is out there. I won’t be making comments on anything that you hear in the news or even specifics of my day to day job. This isn’t the place, nor am I a public spokeswoman for anything. But, I am never shy about telling people how much I love my company. When I ask myself what makes us work- it is, in my little opinion, 100% about our people. We are who we want to sell to. We are who we write for, and we are who we serve. It’s no secret to anyone who asks, there are rarely days when I don’t want to be in the office with my co-workers. And most times, that is because I’m sick or extremely tired. Over the Christmas holidays, I was out of the office a lot, and I kid you not, on Christmas morning, I woke up thinking that it’d be really nice to be at work.

But what does this have to do with mistakes being made?

Do you remember Starbucks shutting down for a day in 2007?

I sure as heck don’t- and Starbucks surround my life.  Starbucks took a day off to correct some blaring mistakes they were making in their day to day operation.  According to Howard Schultz, he reasoned that somewhere along the way, the ball had been dropped and Starbucks forgot who they were supposed to be, all in the pursuit of growth and competition.

Now- is there anything wrong with growth?  No. However growth should not be attained by sacrificing those things which are sacred to your business. For Starbucks- they took their eye off what they were about when they started adding breakfast sandwiches that overpowered the aroma of their rich coffee.  By installing automatic espresso machines that took away from the magic of the barista experience.  These things were added for the sake of revenue (additional inventory and increased sales numbers, respectively).  They were not added because they added to the magical experience the Howard said was the reason for his passion in creating the Italian style coffee house for America.

But the cool thing about mistakes, is that they are often forgotten, while giving you exactly what you need to see.   By seeing sales drop and being so passionate about his business, Howard Schultz was able to quickly set about a plan to bring his company back to it’s core values and continue leading a successful company.  Mistakes let you see your weak spot, and recorrect.  And if you do better than before, your reward is that no one remembers.  Instead, it becomes part of your collective past, and the grander mythology of your business lives on….

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