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Starbucks and Kaizen

I am a confirmed Starbucks addict. Because the burnt flavor of their beans titillates my taste buds in just the right way, at 5am every morning I walk to my neighborhood Starbucks and kick start my day with a whole milk grande latte, no foam, extra shot. Makes my mouth water just to think about it! This morning, as the barista was preparing my latte, I noticed that instead of the shots of expresso from the expresso machine pouring directly into shot glasses, the coffee was going directly into the cardboard drinking cup.

I am a confirmed Starbucks addict. Because the burnt flavor of their beans titillates my taste buds in just the right way, at 5am every morning I walk to my neighborhood Starbucks and kick start my day with a whole milk grande latte, no foam, extra shot. Makes my mouth water just to think about it! This morning, as the barista was preparing my latte, I noticed that instead of the shots of expresso from the expresso machine pouring directly into shot glasses, the coffee was going directly into the cardboard drinking cup. When I asked the barista where the shot glasses were he responded that Starbucks had determined the coffee residue – called “crema”- that remained in the shot glass after the shots of expresso were poured from the shot glass into the drinking cup should go into the drinking cup since it gives the coffee a sweeter, fuller taste. In other words, it will increase the quality of the product and it will also save up to five seconds of time for each drink made (I looked that up).

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As I left Starbucks I was thinking “What a great example of the Japanese philosophy of kaizen!” Kaizen (continuous improvement), made famous by Toyota (read The Toyota Way), is the daily activity of examining standardized work processes and eliminating waste and leads to continual improvements in productivity and quality. Starbucks was founded in 1971 and 37 years later this very successful company is still engaged in making small changes to its products and operation that improves the product and service.

Can you say the same about your company? Are you and your employees engaged in a daily quest to improve your department or operation? Or are you satisfied with doing things the way they have always been done because that’s the easy way, without thinking about whether there is a better way?

The Bottom Line is you and your Employees need to be continually engaged in C.O.P.I. – Continuous Operational Performance Improvement – to improve the Company’s products, services and business operations at all levels.

Why? Because in the WorkQuake© of the Knowledge Economy success is never final! And isn’t continually making the Company better really your job?