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Starbucks CEO Provides Insights: How to Give Company Culture a Perk

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I’ve just returned from attending the CSCMP annual conference in San Diego with fellow enVista associates. While many sessions offered valuable supply chain insight and best practices, for me, the highlight of the conference was keynote speaker Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO. During his presentation, I realized there were surprisingly several similarities between the coffee conglomerate and enVista.

Schultz focused his presentation on the importance of company culture and values, saying that the core success of a company is its culture and guiding principles. Culture and values are also at the cornerstone of enVista’s business and our guiding principles are meant to inspire innovation, honoring commitments and a passion for work. The most compelling thought he revealed during the presentation was that when it comes to building a business, “culture trumps strategy.” That culture should involve open communication internally. Starbucks has fostered a communication culture in many ways including holding quarterly town hall meetings with associates and providing an open forum to communicate and ask questions.

Another focus during the presentation was how important it is to have an entrepreneurial DNA for growth, possibilities and curiosity, with Schultz stating that “growth is not a strategy; it is an outcome.” enVista heavily promotes entrepreneurship within the office. Each year the company hosts an annual contest called enNovator that invites associates to propose a new service or solution for either a better internal process, or a new service that can be sold to clients. Internal mentors assist associates in developing the ideas and after development, some ideas are implemented into enVista’s service offerings. Those associates who work on ideas that can be sold to clients receive a portion of the sale as commission.

Finally, Schultz discussed the importance of treating associates well. Starbucks provides a vehicle for their associates to get an education by partnering with Arizona State University to offer degrees online. Schultz pinpointed that six million young Americans do not have an education and don’t have a job, and that’s a stat Starbucks is hoping to change. Another way Starbucks invests in associates is in healthcare. Schultz shared that Starbucks spends more on healthcare for their associates than they do on coffee beans. This shows that businesses can make money and still treat their associates well.

Overall it was interesting to see how Starbucks, a large B2C franchise in the beverage business, runs its business so similarly to enVista, a B2B business working in supply chain and logistics. Focusing on company culture, innovation and growth has enabled both companies to make their mark in their respective fields.

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