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October 06, 2005

Foster Healthy Dialogue

[Eighth in a series of posts on Starbucks Tribal Knowledge]

What happens when you gather a roomful full of passionate, and sometimes highly caffeinated, overachieving Starbucks Partners in a meeting? You get healthy dialogue.

Starbucks has a peaceful business veneer but, behind closed doors in any of its 100+ conference rooms at its Seattle headquarters, you will witness heated and contested conversations.

Starbucks would rather have these difficult conversations take place in conference rooms than in the hallways. That’s because Starbucks consensus-building decision-making culture requires all issues from all angles be discussed before a decision is reached. This can’t happen in a hallway conversation between just two people.

In response to a rash of unhealthy hallway conversations which were undermining the effectiveness of Starbucks project teams in the early 2000s, former CEO Orin Smith posted Effective Meeting Rules signs in every conference room. These rules were designed to refocus and encourage healthy discussion for all Starbucks project team meetings.

For Starbucks, an effective meeting follows these seven rules:
1| Has clear objectives
2| Follows a focused agenda
3| Begins and ends on time
4| Has a designated leader and attendees have clear roles
5| Fosters open, honest discussion
6| Communicates next steps and responsibilities
7| Fulfills its objectives


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» Lessons From Starbucks from the brand builder
Brilliant series from John Moore at Brand Autopsy this week: Tribal Knowledge - Lessons Learned from Working Inside Starbucks. As I write this, John is only on Lesson #5, but let me recap what he's covered so far: (Click on the lesson link for ... [Read More]


Required reading!

John I linked to you at my place. Couldn't get trackback to work with blogger. Not sure if I did it correctly or had a blip in there somewhere. I just had to put the word out on this series. It is excellent.

Good points John,
Here is some rules if they wont to be more creative at that meeting to:


1. Hire people who have different talents than you.
2. Install a random control in the elevator so that everyone ends up on the wrong floor. Get a head start by pressing the wrong button today.
3. Exchange Filofaxes with each other.
4. Bring your children to work.
5. Invite your customers to participate in projects at an early stage.
6. Invite someone from the street to attend your next meeting.
7. Mix people in meetings: for example sales people and marketing people.
8. Change the setting of the meeting. Why not hold your next meeting at a kindergarten?
9. Create imbalance. Stand on one leg during a meeting and seek imbalance. Seek imbalance in the marketplace.
10. Use simple language. A good idea thrives on simplicity.
11. Always go the extra mile and do a little more than what’s on the list.


I'm sorry Stefan, but I think you need to go back to the first installment in this blog and re-read it. The point is not gimmicks but great business practices by great people who are focused on the right things. Really, I don't mean any disrespect but this sounds like the same gimmicks that we got from Fast Company pre-bubble.

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