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星巴克如何重返正轨

Anne Fisher 2011年03月28日

在其坦诚告白的新书中,首席执行官霍华德•舒尔茨讲诉了西雅图总部的幕后故事,以及他从公司的错误中收获的教训。

    有时候,正是那些微不足道的小事会让你抓狂。

    2007年夏天,星巴克(Starbucks)深陷有史以来最糟糕的境地。

    当时,公司创始人霍华德•舒尔茨7年前已从首席执行官之位卸任,一心要效仿比尔•盖茨做个甩手掌柜,只担任董事长一职。但是,他常常会从窗外恋恋不舍地凝视大门紧闭的会议室, “那感觉就像个局外人在往里看,”在他的新书《致力向前》(Onward)(与乔安妮•戈登合著)中,他这么写道。

    如果在这些会议室里炮制出来的决策不会引发灾难,这种状态可能还能忍受。但是,它们实在是为害不浅。舒尔茨回顾道,星巴克每日店内人流量“像自由落体运动般”,下跌至该公司40年来所未见的低位。这个咖啡巨头规模扩张得太大以致力量摊薄,它开店速度太快数量太多,像音乐行业一样胡乱扩张到美国国外,同时却忽视了开设在线业务,而这本来还能让公司有办法向其众多批评者解释其某些做法的初衷。

    2007年2月,舒尔茨写下一则名声在外的备忘录,对“星巴克的商品化”大加抱怨,很快,它就在网上飞速传播开来。从这一刻起,公司一度高高在上的股价开始下滑,到了该年年底,股价已跌去42%。

    而最后的导火线却是一个微不足道的恼人细节:烧奶酪的气味。

    舒尔茨写道:“跟我相识多年的人知道,很少有什么能像这种气味那样让我怒火中烧。我受不了它!”

    从一开始,他就一直反对在店里卖早餐三明治的主意,三明治里的“蒙特里杰克烧干酪,莫萨里拉奶酪以及最让人讨厌的切达干酪”所散发的气味彻底盖过了咖啡飘香,这让他真是痛恨不已。

    他写道:“这些烧奶酪到底有何魔力?早餐三明治倒是成了我证明我们是如何节节败退的绝佳例证!”

    然而,当舒尔茨向星巴克全球产品主管直接下令——“撤掉三明治!”时,时任首席执行官吉姆•唐纳德却在一小时后撤掉了这道指令。这种困局超过了星巴克所面临的任何单个问题,致使舒尔茨决意重返权位,担当积极实干的首席执行官。2008年1月,他王者归来。

    《致力向前》的副标题是“星巴克如何不失灵魂、重获生机”( How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul)。该书大部分是对随后所发生的情况的详细记述。书中的细节连篇累牍,可能超出了多数读者真正想了解的范围。比如,写到他在写下“商品化”备忘录时,舒尔茨不忘描写当时厨房窗外的天气(下着雨),或者,他去与员工举行重要会议时,衣着如何(“蓝色牛仔裤和一件深灰色运动衫”)。

    但是,对任何想获得真知灼见,了解如何让一个被成功弄得信心爆棚结果却一落千丈的巨头扭转颓势的读者,《致力向前》则是必读之作。而这并不仅仅是因为舒尔茨的治理良方显然奏效了。(2010财年,星巴克公司的营收创下纪录,营业收入增长15%,每股收益猛增138%,2011年第一财季,这一纪录又再被打破。)

    在本书的字里行间,舒尔茨以真诚的,甚至可谓迎合讨好的好好先生的形象出现,因此,当他回顾焦虑,讲诉奋斗历程时,你会为他喝彩。但本书的真正价值在于,他愿意将自己的短处置于显微镜下,为自己公司的过失承担责难,并能得出远远超越星巴克本身的有益见解。

    他若有所思地检讨道:“如果不加以审视,成功就会设法掩盖种种小的失误。我想,这就是很多公司最终失败的原因所在。那往往不是由于来自市场的挑战,而是来自公司内部的问题。”

    他从应对众多挑战中学到的一个至关重要的教训,恰恰是很多人极易忽略的:“我们都对增长耳熟能详,但这并非战略。它是战术。”

    译者:清远

    Sometimes, it's the little things that drive you crazy.

    In the summer of 2007, Starbucks (SBUX) was in the middle of its worst year ever.

    Having stepped aside as CEO 7 years earlier to become a Bill-Gates-like, hands-off chairman instead, founder Howard Schultz often peered wistfully through the windows of closed-door conference rooms, "feeling like an outsider looking in," he writes in his new book (with co-author Joanne Gordon), Onward.

    That would probably have been tolerable if the decisions cooked up in those conference rooms weren't so disastrous. But they were. Starbucks' day-to-day store traffic was "in free fall," Schultz recalls, tumbling to levels not seen in the company's 40-year history. The coffee leviathan had spread itself too thin, opening too many stores too fast, expanding willy-nilly into alien territory like the music business, and neglecting to build an online presence that could have given the company a way to explain some of its actions to its many critics.

    Starting in February 2007 -- when Schultz wrote an infamous memo complaining about the "commoditization of Starbucks," which promptly got spattered all over the Internet -- the company's once-stellar stock began to slide, losing 42% of its value by the end of the year.

    The last straw, however, was a small, irritating detail: The smell of burnt cheese.

    "People who have known me for years will tell you that few things had ever piqued my ire as much as that smell," Schultz writes. "I could not stand it."

    Having opposed the idea of selling breakfast sandwiches from the get-go, he hated the way "singed Monterey Jack, mozzarella, and, most offensively, cheddar" from the sandwiches overwhelmed the aroma of coffee.

    "Where was the magic in burnt cheese?," he writes, adding, "The breakfast sandwich became my quintessential example of how we were losing our way."

    Yet when Schultz issued a direct order to Starbucks' head of global products -- "Get the sandwiches out!" -- then-CEO Jim Donald countermanded it an hour later. The debacle, more than any other single problem Starbucks faced, made Schultz decide to step back into the role of active CEO. In January of 2008, he did.

    Most of Onward, which is subtitled How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, is a play-by-play account of what happened next. There may be more detail here than most readers really want, as when Schultz describes the weather outside his kitchen window while he wrote the "commoditization" memo (rainy), or what he wore to an important meeting with employees ("blue jeans and a dark gray sweater").

    But for anyone looking for insights on how to turn around a troubled giant brought low by overconfidence in its own success, Onward is essential reading -- and not only because Schultz's recipe is clearly working. (The company reported record earnings for fiscal 2010, with earnings per share up 138% on a 15% gain in revenues, and then broke its own record in the first quarter of fiscal 2011.)

    Schultz comes across in these pages as a genuinely, even disarmingly, nice guy, so that, while he's recalling his angst and recounting his struggles, you find yourself cheering him on. But the real value here is in his willingness to put his own shortcomings under a microscope, shoulder much of the blame for his company's missteps, and draw conclusions that reach far beyond Starbucks.

    "If not checked, success has a way of covering up small failures," he muses. "This is why, I think, so many companies fail. Not because of challenges in the marketplace, but because of challenges on the inside."

    A crucial lesson he learned while tackling those challenges is one that's all too easy to lose sight of: "Growth, we now know all too well, is not a strategy. It is a tactic."

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