When 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea opened up in July 2009, I was quick to call it a one-off experiment for Starbucks to relearn some of the personal touches it lost due to making so many compromises in order to grow to over 16,000 locations in 50-plus countries around the world. (We’ve gone over all these compromises on past Starbucks postings so read-up if need be.)
One of the comments in my post about this petri dish experiment didn't understand why Starbucks couldn't scale the 15th Ave. Coffee concept. My response was a short Lesson on Scale and Compromise...
DATE: July 2009
Why Starbucks can't scale its 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea concept...
my original comment:
Starbucks already scaled this [concept] into becoming the Starbucks we know today. Problem with scaling is COMPROMISE. Anytime a business “mass produces” something, compromises occur.
Think of a recipe for homemade cookies. This recipe yields two dozen of the most delicious cookies ever. Scale that recipe to yield 80,000 dozen cookies every day and lots changes. Industrial ovens replace the household oven used. Bulk ingredients replace hand-picked ingredients. Complex systematic procedures insure each cookie is the same diameter, the same weight, the same everything when scale happens. After enough compromises and changes take place from scaling, the taste of the cookie changes. It just doesn’t taste the same.
I bet McDonald’s used to make a very good hamburger. Not today. Scale happened.
I bet Quiznos used to make a very good sandwich. Not today. Scale happened.
I bet Taco Bell used to make a very good taco. Not today. Scale happened.
Very few companies retain its specialness after it decides to scale. At some point, too many compromises are made for the sake of growth and all those nuanced compromises, when added together, result in a product that no longer resembles the original intent. That’s exactly where Starbucks is today. Maybe 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea will teach Starbucks all the compromises they’ve made to grow have truly changed the original intent of the company.