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October 06, 2005

Participation is the Price of Admission

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

How many times have you sat idle in meetings or in conferences? Instead of participating, you choose to disengage yourself and simply coast.

Coasting will not get you far at Starbucks. Your career will stagnate. You will get left behind. You will eventually get ejected.

The most successful Starbucks Partners realize participation is the price of admission to meetings and conferences.

When Starbucks Partners choose to accept an invitation to a meeting, they choose to come prepared to make a worthwhile contribution. They choose to offer their insights. They choose to ask the tough questions. They choose to participate.

By participating, these Partners not only become a part of the consensus-building environment. They also help themselves get recognized as someone who cares about the business and as someone who is eager to make things happen.

It’s eager partners who are the more successful employees at Starbucks.

Starbucks Tribal Knowledge tells us participation is the price of admission to any meeting or any business gathering. Don’t procrastinate. Participate.


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» Starbucks Tribal Knowledge Part 7 – Participation is the Price of Admission from David V. Lorenzo
This post is Part Seven in Brand Autopsy’s series on what makes Starbucks great. Here is the money quote: “When Starbucks Partners choose to accept an invitation to a meeting, they choose to come prepared to make a worthwhile contribution. [Read More]


Participation is indeed far better than sitting things out. It does, however, require one other ingredient: the organization (via the meeting organizer) must be ready to listen and take action. Many people sit out meetings because they know their contribution will most likely be ignored.

Meetings aso need to be relevant and have a purpose. If the only reason for going to the meeting is you must -- and the meeting exists for no other purpose than to meet -- expecting much participation is unrealistic. Too many meetings are called to cover someone's butt by pretending the decision was taken through consensus and spread the blame if things go wrong.

Adrian ... you've just given us all a preview of the next Starbucks Tribal Knowledge installment titled, FOSTER HEALTY DIALOGUE. In this post, I share seven rules Starbucks following to ensure effective meetings happen. Stay tuned ...

I agree that participation is better than sitting things out. HOWEVER, I've also been an unfortunate attendee at far too many meetings that went WAY longer than they should because, while they did accomplish their goals, there was an awful lot of wasted time chewed up by people who talk too much. Sometimes they are talking for no reason other than the fact that they enjoy the sound of their own voice and have no valid point to contribute. I don't always have great ideas at every meeting I attend but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be there, because I probably come up with useful solutions or ideas about 75% of the time. On the other occasions, I attend because I need to be in the loop about what's discussed, but I keep my mouth shut and don't waste everyone else's time.

I think preparation, paying attention, WORTHY contribution, and follow-up action should be the price of admission. I would just be concerned that requiring people to might make them feel pressured if they don't have a great idea to contribute, and this might cause people to just make stuff up to stay out of hot water. Was this never a problem at Starbucks?

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