Starbucks and Transformation Design?

Leland Maschmeyer links to an HBR article with a nice example of transformation design: Why Traditional Recession Tactics Are Doomed To Fail This Time.

Starbucks tried to grow by selling us more junk we don’t need — music, mugs, and mouse pads. That was orthodox, textbook, industrial-era strategy: grow by seizing share in adjacent markets. But it’s also defunct in a world where we don’t need more useless junk.

What do we need in the 21st century — not just as brain-dead consumers, but as global citizens? We need opportunities to grow and amplify our capabilities. For Starbucks, that might mean, instead of hawking mugs and chocolates, training baristas to teach classes in coffee-making, letting communities use Starbucks as a venue for local government, or, at the limit, training local suppliers from developing countries as Baristas in developed ones. How cool would that be? Very.

Of course, Starbucks isn’t doing any of this, and they don’t call it transformation design as such, but in particular the part about training people to be baristas seems interesting.

Blue Bottle, one of the elite coffee bars here in San Francisco operates out of a garage, but they have a service where they come to your office and help you learn to calibrate your espresso machine. I’m not sure if the Starbucks baristas have the credibility to do this any more, but on the other hand (and a little cynically) nothing boosts your credibility like teaching a class.

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