Onward – reflections…

Well after outlining the list of books to read/the ones I’m currently attempting to get time to read, I managed to finish Onward, Howard Schultz’s (of Starbucks fame) second book.

Fittingly I sit here writing this in Starbucks, but nonetheless there are some wonderful take home points from this book that should be brought up. Firstly, I did not realise how bad a state Starbucks was in back in 2007. Literally had no idea it was that bad. This book explains them wonderfully, and Schultz’s writing style is fantastic, super accessible, but more importantly ultra informative. The lay-off and cuts sound terrible, real shitty, but at the end of the day they’re necessary for the business to survive and prosper in the long term. Which gets me to my (or at least the one that I discovered from Onward) first take home point:

…growth for growth’s sake is a losing proposition.

This book (and the company) is a wonderful example of why. Expanding on that point, and very much related, is the second take home point that I perceived:

From day one, I knew we could not transform the company if we did not excel and lead in our core business, and so a goal that began with Espresso Excellence Training evolved into innovative products and practices that continue to improve the quality and delivery of our brewed and espresso beverages.

Understand and build on your core competencies is probably the best way to put that. It’s so true.

Finally, the brief mention to the concept of Lean, affectionally put as:

…a nontraditional way of managing and working that claims to reduce redundancies and waste while making conditions easier for employees and improving products and service quality for customers.

is a fantastic little section, spearheaded by a guy called Scott Heydon. It outlines beautifully what programmes like this can achieve, or at least how they can be worked into practice. I’ve started reading Ries’ The Lean Entrepreneur, and i hope it will be as interesting!

A few more books have appeared on my radar, and they’re being added to my Kindle ever so soon, so expect an update on the reading list. Meanwhile, Michael Lewis has a great new(ish) Vanity Fair article.

A talk I discovered a while back on design and freelance work, and the role of lawyers and contracts is also very worth watching. F*ck You, Pay Me is the title, Mike Monteiro is the speaker, and it’s available here.

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