Published: 1 year ago

Is It Time To Shut ‘Er Down?

As I type, I’m sitting in my sometimes-remote-office, Starbucks. It’s Tuesday, May 29, in the year of our Lord 2018, and we’re 90 minutes away from The Shutdown.

If you’re in the distant future and this post is being read to you from the dashboard of your self-flying car (please please please let me have a British accent), let me refresh your memory: 5/29/18 is the date that Starbucks shut down more than 8,000 stores for only the second time in their history. The first was to learn how to make a better latte; the more recent is to conduct anti-bias training. The closure stems from an April 2018 incident where two black men were unjustly arrested for trying to use a Philadelphia Starbucks restroom without making a purchase.

It’s a bold move by executive chairman Howard Schultz, and I’m sure his hope is that this will (a) stem negative press coverage and public backlash, and (b) engender a kinder, gentler “third place” that Starbucks has always claimed to be.

As I sit here within the 90 minute shadow of a prematurely-shuttered store, it raises a question in my mind: where do we need to pump the brakes in order to improve our culture?

Just today I fielded a question from a guest services team leader from a church in the Northeast. Her question centered around training and culture: how can she bring her volunteers up to speed in a rapidly-moving environment?

Maybe you’re asking a similar question. Perhaps it feels like your organization is moving so fast that you simply don’t have time to slow down and clarify expectations. But can you really afford not to? It’s true that you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) cancel a weekend service in order to host a volunteer training. But even if you can’t shut down, perhaps a slow down is in order.

Here are a few related questions I’m wrestling with:

  • What assumed values do you need to make explicit? What are the things you think your team knows, but you’ve never actually trained on?
  • Where can you dial back expended energy in order to focus that energy where it matters?
  • Which team members have never participated in a training? How can you recapture and re-inspire them so they share the correct vision?
  • Which team members have forgotten their “Why”? What steps need to be taken so they can get back to firing on all cylinders?
  • How can you keep your core values top of mind for new and existing team members? What do you need to do now so a shutdown doesn’t need to occur a year from now?

What questions have I overlooked? Add them below.


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  1. Warren Wilson says:

    Hey Danny!

    Awesome questions! One that I would add to your 2nd bullet (Where can you dial back expended energy in order to focus that energy where it matters?) is, “How do you dial back expended energy in order to focus on what matters?” I can usually identify (or even readily know in my mind and gut) where I can dial back–the sticking point is how I do it. And, if I can identify the how, the next sticking point is the when.

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