Look Back with Old School Thinking to Look Forward

Translating New Testament Principles into Present-Day Practices

One of my favorite pastimes is browsing through used bookstores in towns I travel to. Recently, I discovered a treasure in the form of the book “Building Better Churches” by Gaines S. Dobbins, prominent Southern Baptist educator from the 1920s-1950s. He asks some great questions:

  • What sort of church would it be that undertook intelligently and fearlessly to fashion itself according to the basic principles of the New Testament?
  • On what vital functions would it major?
  • What would be revealed to be its strengths and weaknesses?
  • What would it give up as encumbrances inherited from a traditional past but clearly of doubtful value in the living present?

His answers? He thought the church should be a

  • Regenerate body – an inward change growing out of a personal experience in which the shift of life’s center has been from self to Christ
  • Beloved community – sacrifice for the common good is the essence of true community; love cannot flourish in an atmosphere where some assume an attitude of superiority over others as their inferiors
  • Company of worshippers – the object of worship is the God of the Lord Jesus Christ made real through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The practice of worship is in spirit and truth; the purpose of worship is to maintain vital unity between the worshiper and God through the mediator, Jesus Christ, and the illuminator the Holy Spirit. A church may do much else besides worship, but it will do little else of consequence without worship
  • Winner of believers – the process of intelligent persuasion began with Christ’s invitation to “come and see.” It continued throughout His ministry and Paul expanded it. There is no mistaking the proposal of the New Testament that believers be won to saving faith through persuasion
  • Teacher of disciples – preaching and teaching are indispensable means of leading toward Christ, to Christ, and into the service and likeness of Christ. A church is essentially a school with Christ as the Great Teacher; the Holy Spirit as His interpreter; the Bible the chief textbook; the minister the chief officer of the school with other leaders gathered around him as teachers and staff; every believer an enrolled student; and all others who can be reached are sought as learners to be led toward Christ
  • Server of humanity – the early Christians caught the spirit of Christ and like Him, “went about doing good.” It must send regenerate men and women out into an immoral society to transform evil into good, wrong into right, injustice into justice, not so much by political measures as by the leavening process of Christian influence
  • Agency of the Kingdom – the Kingdom of God is a present and future reality. It is not an organization to be promoted, nor a movement to be advanced, nor a social ideal to be realized, but a relationship to be entered and a spiritual order into which others are to be brought through persuasive witnessing

Dobbins, after a lifetime of service to the church, but writing this in 1947, had this final thought which I leave for you to consider:

Ours is an age of revolution. Inevitably the churches are undergoing change. Why not seize on this opportunity to make changes back to the New Testament rather than farther away from it?

And we thought all this “church change” stuff was new…

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Cooperation Rather Than Confrontation

Following the Civil War, economic recovery and expansion in the United States was to a large part driven by the expansion of the railroad system.

From its infancy in the 1830s through the 1870s, railroad systems developed piecemeal within the borders of each state. Everything from locomotive size to railcar layout to schedules to fares was developed only with a mind to serve a limited scope – usually measured in tens of miles, occasionally getting up into the hundreds of miles. Nowhere was this more glaring than the rail gauge, or distance between rails.

Facing a tremendous rebuilding effort, with grand schemes of expansion beyond that, the independent railroad systems of the mid-1880s realized that it would be better to serve national, rather than local, interests. The idea that it was better for a railroad to have a separate gauge from its local rivals had become redundant.

Cooperation rather than confrontation was now the watchword.

After decades of incessant fighting, railroad companies realized that railroads work best as an integrated system; the longer that passengers and freight can travel without changing trains, the better the service.

In the South, the five-foot gauge was changed to standard (4 feet, 8 ½ inches) over two days in the summer of 1886.

Two days.

27gen012017fb-1

 

Large gangs of track workers moved one of the rails on 13,000 miles of track. The operation – staggering in its scope – also required converting 1,800 locomotives and 40,000 coaches. Up until this time, trains heading in and out of the South had been subject of delays as their cars were lifted by hoists and attached to wheel sets of the right gauge.

The efforts of tens of thousands of workers over a momentous thirty-six-hour period on May 31-June 1, 1886 created – at last – a unified railroad for almost the whole United States.

Are there bottlenecks in your organization where converting to a “standard gauge” will bring tremendous growth opportunities?

Background material from The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

On the way to an appointment last week it was a warm sunny fall day so I had the sunroof open and the windows down. I came across a field that had freshly cut and baled hay in it – the old style small bales. The aroma of the hay took me back to my teenage years, when I helped nearby farmers as they would bring in hay for the winter. My usual job was to stack hay bales on a wagon pulled by a tractor – sometimes tossing them from the field, sometimes stacking them on the wagon. Hard work, but good exercise and fun for a bunch of teenagers.

courtesy Oregon Department of Agriculture

courtesy Oregon Department of Agriculture

My instantaneous trip down memory lane was shattered when I rounded the corner and saw one man, driving a tractor pulling a machine that picked up the bales, stacked them in neat rows, and when a row was complete lifted the whole thing onto a trailer. The work was quicker, neater, and in the long run more economically advantageous for the farmer.

On the way back from the appointment, going down the same road, but on the other side, I saw an elderly gentleman driving a tractor cutting a small field around his house-but with an identical International Harvester tractor and mower to the one that I used in the early 70s. Now, the tractor I used then was old – that made this one really ancient. But it seemed to be doing the job just fine, and the farmer was moving right along in his work.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The season and needs of both farmers dictated their actions. Each was using tools at his disposal to accomplish a task. Each was satisfied that they were doing the right thing, and they achieved their desired result. What was the change going on?

One of the best resources for understanding change is William Bridges’ “Managing Transitions“. Don’t let the title fool you: the first sentence explains the premise of the rest of the book:

It isn’t the changes that do you in; it’s the transitions.

Bridges sees change as situational – the new job, new boss, new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Bridges would translate the old French saying above to:

There can be any number of changes, but unless there are transitions, nothing will be different when the dust clears.

Situational change hinges on the new thing, but psychological transition depends on letting go of the old reality and the old identity you had before the change took place. Nothing so undermines organizational change as the failure to think through who will have to let go of what when change occurs.

Got Change, anyone?

Transformation Hurts

If you are comfortable where you are, or if things are okay as they are, you wouldn’t go through transformation.

Only when the pain of changing things overcomes the pain of status quo would you ever consider transformation.

That’s where Starbucks found itself in early 2008. Chronicled in CEO Howard Schultz’s 2011 book Onward, Starbucks – at the apparent height of its success – was declining inwardly, and on the edge of declining outwardly. Onward details the transformation Starbucks went through in 2008-2010, utilizing a Transformation Agenda developed by the senior leadership team at Starbucks as the primary guide.

The Transformation Agenda featured 7 “Big Moves” – innovations and advancements designed to return Starbucks to its core practices. The Big Moves also contained one final, painful set of actions designed to reverse sales trends and bolster stock value.

600 stores closed.

12,000 partner positions eliminated in these stores.

1,000 non-store positions eliminated.

Schultz called it the most painful decision he has ever made. Only the certainty that closing the stores would keep Starbucks operational in the long run allowed him to make the decision. He understood the reasoning, but it was impossible to take the emotion out of the equation:

For all the flak about Starbucks’ ubiquity, almost every store maintained a devoted following inside and out. A soul. With each closing, we would be erasing a fingerprint, and that was a reality I could not possibly ignore.

Fast forward to the fall of 2010: Starbucks regained a healthy balance with a culture that celebrates creativity and discipline, entrepreneurship and process, as well as rigorous innovation. Their fiscal 2010 operating margin was the highest consolidated one in their 40-year history. The transformation worked.

But according to Schultz,

…perhaps the most valuable thing that came out of the two-year transformation was the confidence we gained knowing that we could preserve our values despite the hardships we faced. Holding fast to those values steadied us throughout the tumultuous journey, and the ways in which we conduct our business will continue to bring our partners pride and fuel their engagement as we continue to grow.

Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. Large numbers are not what matter. The only number that matters is “one.”

brewed coffee in cup

One cup.

SB customer

One customer.

barista handing drink over counter

One partner.

SB interior

One experience at a time.

 

Question for ChurchWorld leaders:

What’s your “one”?

an updated post from a series reviewing Onward, by Howard Shultz

Onward

preparation for a new series coming soon on Leading the Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli

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Transformation Initiatives at Starbucks

A previous post was a brief look at the bold Transformation Agenda that Starbucks put into place early in 2008 to overcome their decline. The Agenda contained a mission statement and 7 Big Moves designed to return Starbucks to success.

Within a few months, at their April 2008 shareholders meeting, Starbucks rolled out the following six transformation initiatives:

  • The Mastrena – a finely crafted, Swiss made espresso machine that would provide baristas with the ability to give customers a high-quality consistent shot of espresso second to none, transforming the espresso experience in their stores. By the end of 2008 the machine was in 30% of stores, and by 2010 a majority of Starbucks had the Mastrena.
  • Conservation International – a partnership with CI, begun in 1998, was expanded so that Starbucks could buy fair-trade coffee, produced in shade-grown conditions with fair compensation and safe working conditions for coffee farm workers. By 2009, all Starbucks espresso beans and espresso-based products would qualify for a new marking designed to articulate their practices: Responsibly Grown. Ethically Traded. Proudly Served.
  • The Rewards Card – designed to recognize their most loyal customers with freebies, the Card addressed an emerging need for value. Existing Starbucks Card holders could register their cards online, instantly turning it into a Rewards Card.
  • MyStarbucksIdea.com – an interactive website designed to listen to customers suggestions, rants, and comments. Moderated by 50 veteran Starbucks employees, the website was launched live by uploading ideas submitted by shareholders that morning. Within minutes, more ideas came streaming in from people listening to the meeting’s broadcast or following rolling blog posts. In the next 24 hours, over 7,000 ideas were posted.
  • Pike Place Roast – announcing that Starbucks would once again grind whole beans in their stores, two master baristas introduced Pike Place Roast, a smooth, well-balanced, lighter blend of coffee, designed to give full flavor while not being as bold as traditional blends.
  • Clover – a commercially viable way to replicate the benefits of the French Press method of brewed coffee, Clover was a local invention acquired by Starbucks early in 2008. It created a fantastic cup of coffee at a pace designed to keep up with the demand of most Starbucks stores.

SB turnaround menu fastcompany.com

Seven Big Moves.

Six Transformation Initiatives.

All of these engaging tools that helped Starbucks navigate through a very unpredictable journey, one milestone at a time.

The initiatives introduced at that meeting each heralded a return to the core values of Starbucks – coffee, customers, innovation, and values – but they weren’t enough by themselves to bring the company back from the brink.

Painfully personal decisions were the final step in the transformation.

Lessons for ChurchWorld

  • Take a look at the initiatives above, and translate them into your world. What actions can you dream up – and then put into action – that would help you accomplish your transformation agenda?
  • Are you secure enough in your core values to put anything – and everything – on the table?
  • Transformation is not just about nuts and bolts, about systems and processes. Is your vision lived out in the lives of your people?

an updated post from a series reviewing Onward, by Howard Shultz

Onward

preparation for a new series coming soon on Leading the Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli

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Transformation Agenda

Continuing the transformation journey at Starbucks – and what it can teach your organization…

Once Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz decided to return as CEO, he pulled together a team to began working on the process of turning the company’s performance around.

As noted in this post, one of the team’s key realizations was the need to focus on the ones: one cup of coffee, served to one customer, at one store. That thought drove the team to draft a transformation agenda that would be used company-wide to implement decisions.

The Transformation Agenda started with a compelling strategic vision, and was followed by a backbone of seven big moves, each with specific tactics. Here’s a synopsis:

Our Aspiration – To become and enduring, great company with one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world, known for inspiring and nurturing the human spirit.

courtesy touchworldwide.com

courtesy touchworldwide.com

Seven Big Moves

  • Be the undisputed coffee authority – Starbucks could not possibly transform the company if they did not excel and lead in their core business. Focusing on their quality and passion they exhibit in sourcing, roasting, and brewing coffee, actions included improving the quality and delivery of espresso drinks, reinventing brewed coffee, delivering innovative beverages, and increase the share of the at-home market. Undergirding all these actions was the push to continue telling their story.
  • Engage and inspire their partners – Every Starbucks partner (employee) should be passionate about coffee – from soil to cup – and possess the skills, enthusiasm, and permission to share that expertise with customers. Actions included significantly improving training and career development for partners at all levels as well as developing meaningful and groundbreaking compensation, benefit, and incentive packages for partners.
  • Ignite the emotional attachment with their customers – People come to Starbucks for coffee and human connection. Their goal was to put customers back in the center of the experience by addressing their needs, providing the “value” in a manner congruent with the brand, and developing programs that recognize and reward the most loyal customers. In the stores, that meant achieving operational excellence, finding new ways to deliver world-class customer service and perfect beverages while keeping costs in line and retail partners engaged.
  • Expand their global presence-while making each store the heart of the local neighborhood – The challenge was to grow their retail presence while striving to connect with and support the neighborhoods and cultures that each store serves. Enhancing local relevancy would mean redesigning existing and new stores, offering new products that reflected the tastes of particular cultures, and reaching out by volunteering or fund-raising to support local programs and causes.
  • Be a leader in ethical sourcing and environmental impact – Starbucks has led the way in treating farmers with respect and dignity. These efforts would expand, strengthening existing partnerships and forging new ones. They also have a goal of reducing each store’s environmental footprint and sharing their initiatives with others.
  • Create innovative growth platforms worthy of their coffee – Starbucks would grow not just by adding stores and selling coffee, buy also by extending its brand and/or expertise to new product platforms expanding or complementing coffee, such as tea, cold beverages, instant coffee, food, and the booming health and wellness market. Innovation that was relevant to their core values would be the hallmark of their transformation.
  • Deliver a sustainable economic model – Without a profitable business model, Big Moves 1-6 would not be possible. It was imperative that the refocus on customers and core also be matched by an improvement on how they operated their business. Creating a culture that drove quality and speed, managing expenses on an ongoing basis, reducing costs, and building a world-class supply chain would be the primary tactics in this area. Big Move 7 would be the most painful, least sexy, and most difficult part of transforming the company.

Launched at a global summit of 200 of Starbucks’ most senior leaders from around the world, the Transformation Agenda was in Schultz’s words “to make sure that we level set the reason we exist.”

courtesy nbcnews.com

courtesy nbcnews.com

Schultz felt ultimately that the summit helped align Starbucks’ top global leaders around two very important statements: the Transformation Agenda, which outlined what everyone at Starbucks needed to do, and the mission statement, which reminded them why.

Lessons for ChurchWorld Leaders:

  • Do you know what you are doing?
  • Do you why you are doing it?
  • Do you know how you are doing it?
  • Do you know when you are successful?
  • Do you know where God is taking you?

For a better understanding of these questions in terms of your church, take a look at the Church Unique Visual Summary here, or download it here as a free e-book.

It might just be the start of your own Transformation Agenda.

an updated post from a series reviewing Onward, by Howard Shultz

Onward

preparation for a new series coming soon on Leading the Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli

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Ones Add Up

Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz’s 2011 book Onward details the amazing comeback story of Starbucks: after more than three decades of success, in 2008 they found themselves with sales sliding at a distressing rate, a falling stock value, and relentless competition. Compounding the problem, the world’s economy was in a tailspin.

With aggressive, sometimes painful moves and a powerful transformation agenda to guide them, they were able to reverse their decline, and by the end of 2010 were once again on top of their game.

What happened?

Here’s an excerpt from the book that gives you a big clue:

Like a doctor who measures a patient’s height and weight every year without checking blood pressure or heart rate, Starbucks was not diagnosing itself at a level of detail that would help ensure its long-term health. We predicated future success on how many stores we opened during a quarter instead of taking the time to determine whether each of those stores, would, in fact, be profitable. We though in terms of millions of customers and thousands of stores instead of one customer, one partner, and one cup of coffee at a time.

With such a mind-set, many little things dangerously slipped by unnoticed, or at least went unacknowledged. How could one imperfect cup of coffee, one unqualified manager, or one poorly located store matter when millions of cups of coffee were being served in tens of thousands of stores?

We forgot that “ones” add up.

courtesy freemarketmediagroup.com

courtesy freemarketmediagroup.com

Lessons for ChurchWorld:

  1. What “business” are you in?
  2. What are the roots of that business?
  3. It’s okay to have a 30,000 foot view, but eventually you’ve got to land the plane.
  4. You’ve got to produce results.
  5. You may see the crowds, but never forget the “ones“.

an updated post from a series reviewing Onward, by Howard Shultz

Onward

preparation for a new series coming soon on Leading the Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli

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