What Innovators Can – and Should – Learn from Starbucks

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Not everybody drinks coffee, but nobody can deny how important coffee is the world. On average, people drink around 9.5 cups of coffee per week, seeing it as a productivity current and social lubricant alike. Starbucks is one of the most dominant global coffee suppliers. Did you know their budget for health insurance for staff is higher than what they spend on coffee beans? And did you know every employee is encouraged and supported to get an education that is not related to coffee? You may wonder how that makes sense! What this is, however, is INNOVATION and Starbucks knows like no one else how important an idea management software service for business truly is.

In order to be a true innovator, you must be able to challenge the status quo. It is about looking at how things are done, and throwing those preconceptions out the window. It is about challenging any assumptions and working your way around them. That is what Starbucks has done with their College Achievement Plan program, which means employees can have their tuition fees covered for their entire degree program. Over 140,000 employees have already used this system.

Of course, not every business has the opportunity to invest that amount of financial resources in their workforce, no matter how much they want to. But every investment, of any kind, is an investment worth making. So how do you get started? How do you make sure that your business becomes like Starbucks, where employees are valued, cherished, and 100% engaged?

What We Can Learn from Starbucks

  1. Do not assume anything. Realize that, whenever you are trying to solve a problem, you are making assumptions as well. Ask yourself why the issue is a problem at all. Ask yourself whether you automatically go towards a certain solution. Once you have that in your head, you need to flip it. Think about what would happen if the exact opposite was true. This gives you a new type of reality, out of which you can come up with fantastic ideas.
  2. Never just accept an answer. How often have you heard the phrase “well, that’s just how we’ve always done it?” and accepted it? Next time you hear it, ask them to explain their statement. Find out why things have always been done that way. More than likely, the answer, if one is forthcoming at all, will be filled with assumptions. Give them an alternative and see where it goes.
  3. Bring people in from the outside. A fresh pair of eyes and an objective look is a fantastic way of seeing new things. Try, wherever possible, to get someone who is not particularly experienced on the topic or problem you want to solve. This is the best possible way to break through the status quo once and for all.

Challenging the status quo is unbelievably difficult. But it can be done! And once it is done, the benefits are fantastic.

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