This fall, Starbucks hauled 1,000 lighting instruments, 445 chain motors, 120 speakers, 21 projection screens, and 5,000 live coffee plants to the conference center in Houston and spent three weeks installing a "Leadership Lab." What Starbucks doesn't spend on commercials, it makes up for with this three-day spectacle (I was embedded in the Lab for a day; here's what it was like). The goal is to mobilize its employees to become brand evangelists.
During Starbucks's $35 million employee conference, about 9,600 managers cycled through the temporary interactive experience—raking coffee beans, watching roasting demonstrations, learning company history, and most importantly, soaking in the Starbucks brand as they went. For this week's Innovation Agents video, Fast Company spoke with two of the lab's creators, SVP of Global Coffee Craig Russell and VP of Global Communications Valerie O'Neil, about how the 400,000-square-foot trade show brews inspiration in Starbucks employees.