Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Onward by Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon

So, I spend time at Starbucks. Anyone who works with me or lives with me or knows me knows that.  So I was curious. I know about how Starbucks is supposed to be the evil coffee company that drives other, independent coffee houses out of business so i was curious to see how Howard Schultz, the current CEO, handled that. And he handled it poorly.

In 2000, Howard Schultz left the company to become chairman of the board; however in 2008, he returned to the position of CEO. The economy was tanking and so was Starbucks (which is no big surprise - I mean, people don't want to spend $2.00 for a cup of coffee when you can pay $1.00 for the same size coffee at the independent, fair trade, organic local coffee shop and the coffee is better!). This book is a business memoir, for lack of a better way of describing it and covers the period of time from 2007 to 2010. This is the period where Schultz retakes the helm as CEO and attempts to bring Starbucks through one of the worst recessions in recent memory.

What I disliked the most about this book was not the premise of it.  I really like transparency.  I like it when companies, no matter who they are, strive to make their decisions and the methodology by which they get to that decision public.  It gives me faith and makes me feel like I can give feedback about the process and the decision. However, that isn't what necessarily happened here. There were definitely times where Mr. Schultz attempted to be honest about the decisions he made and why. But I also feel like he was sugarcoating things and making Starbucks out to be this great, wonderful company when I'm not sure that it's all that different from any other big company - the bottom line. So i found that he came across as smarmy and slimey and trying to sell me on Starbucks, when really, it isn't all that great.  I felt like it was fake and it was forced. 

Sorry, you didn't sell me and, as The donald would say, you're fired.

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