Do you ever get tired of change? I’m not afraid to admit this: I do. Unfortunately change is perpetual and, thanks to inventions like rapid transit and the Internet, occurs faster now than at any point in history. There are times change leaves me breathless. I have had to take a lot of time to think about the concept of change. I’m going to have to deal with it. I might as well learn how I relate to it.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Change isn’t an action; it’s a reaction. Change is an alteration of course as a response to a stimulus. As a result, it is those who handle change most rapidly who will experience the greatest success. Perhaps then, one of the greatest skills to develop, is the ability to adapt. We must become experts at changing, and at responding to changes.
Starbucks seems to always be changing even though so much remains the same. Recently, I noticed the company experimenting with online ordering. This sounds great on the surface, but it has had an unintended effect by breaking the queue. Customers who have waited patiently in line to order and receive their drinks are suddenly being interrupted by people who seem to have gotten priority preference and have been allowed to skip the line.
How would Starbucks respond? They are continuing to reshape the process based on customer feedback, and it has resulted in a streamlined process and reduced wait times for everyone, not just those who ordered ahead. Unlike most of us, Starbucks is not losing sight of it’s primary focus (customer service) in the midst of making changes for greater profitability.
If you look at the entire history of Starbucks, the formula has remained the same: offer premium coffee at a premium price. The model is the same now as it was in 1971 when the company first opened. But in that time, they have morphed: they’ve added and removed varieties and types of espresso drinks, they’ve added food service and loyalty cards, and now online ordering. They have made small adjustments in response to the changing environment and desires of their customers. They still offer premium coffee, they just do it a little differently today than they did one, ten or forty years ago.
Change will always happen. Our ability to thrive is dependent on our response to it. As Starbucks has shown, we must be rich in our skills, but nimble in our ability to change.