Onward and Upward, Systematically

I just finished reading “Onward,” a fascinating book by Howard Schultz, president of Starbucks, the coffee giant. It takes you step by step from Schultz’ decision to return as CEO, in order to bring the company back from the brink, onward to the company’s remarkable recovery.

What made this read so interesting for me was that at about same time our company was going through a similar situation—except for the fact that Starbucks boasts many more zeros in its sales figures and projections.

However, as Schultz explains it, he looks at each of his 16,000 locations as being unique and necessarily able to stand on their own. As you probably know, no matter how large or small a company may be, many—if not most—of the challenges are the same.

ALL companies need to deliver a profitable product—whether goods or services—to an end user. Of course, the process of doing that is what separates the bad from the good, and the good from the great!

I suspect you would have to be living under a rock not to have noticed or been affected by the transformation our industry has undergone over the past 10 years—due to the Internet, outsourcing to other countries, over-capacity, the downturn in our economy, digital tablets for reading books, and the list goes on.

Many companies are still in survival mode, and too many have thrown in the towel. The challenges are great, but as I wrote in a song many years ago: “It’s time to turn our face toward the wind,” and face those challenges head on.

So, I was inspired by the way Howard Schultz faced and acknowledged his company’s challenges. He shared his failures and successes as he looked for that silver bullet to ride back to the top. He soon came to realize, however, there was no ONE silver bullet that was going to turn Starbucks around; rather, it was going to take an arsenal of new ideas (bullets). Schultz called it a “Transformation Agenda.”

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • CMT

    I’d love to hear more about how you systemized your marketing campaigns. That seems to be where most of us stumble. We have a great idea, maybe a nice brochure or mail campaign, and then we don’t do a good job implementing or following up. Any suggestions?