Reprinted from Onward by Howard Schultz. Copyright (c) 2011 by Howard Schultz. By permission of Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098.
In short, a new idea's execution had to be as good as the idea itself. Taking a more cautious, calculated approach to innovation goes against my just-do-it entrepreneurial nature, which plays off my gut and pushes for speed. But I was recognizing that the company and I needed to shift the way we brought products to market, bringing to the process the same degree of mastery that we had historically applied to roasting coffee. And because I no longer wanted the company's growth to rely only on building more stores, Starbucks' future depended on its ability to innovate on several fronts, in multiple channels of global distribution. One seemingly natural extension of the brand that I had long entertained introducing was having Starbucks become a larger player in the health and wellness market, beyond just offering healthier food and beverages in our stores. To explore this option, I asked Richard Tait--who, as the cofounder of the award-winning Cranium game and toy company, has a knack for reinventing the status quo--to apply his innovative muscle to articulating how Starbucks might succeed in the health and wellness market. Richard made a compelling case that included some exciting but risky new ideas, and Starbucks' leadership team and I would have to decide if the company had the resources to take them on at this time in our evolution. In 2009, as we explored future options for innovative, disciplined growth, we were asking ourselves several questions. How could we re-create and improve the store experience, which is our heritage and the foundation of the brand's identity? How might we expand on our value proposition, which has always been about emotional and human connection? How should we strengthen our voice to better tell our story? And how could the company extend its coffee authority beyond the stores, as I'd once envisioned happening with Mazagran? Personally I did not fear failure. While I did not like or want to fail, I was willing to take risks. And I did worry that the company, given its battered stock price and morale, would not be able to emotionally or financially survive a high-profile setback. Whatever we chose to do had to be done right and done well. The risks were huge. But the way I saw it, Starbucks had no choice but to forge ahead and create. After all, innovation is in our DNA.
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