Culture Change: Lessons Learned from Starbucks' Transformation

By | Customer Experience, Engagement, Industry, Leadership, Organizational Health | No Comments

I’ve talked to several customers lately who have cited a “cultural shift” as a major area of focus. These nonprofits are undergoing an overhaul to the way they hire, train, and motivate staff and volunteers.

I also recently started reading “Onward” by Starbucks founder Harry Schultz. The book covers the Schultz’s cultural overhaul that saved Starbucks. While I am not all the way through the book yet, I couldn’t help share how the “Seven Big Moves Schultz” made to transform Starbucks would also apply to every nonprofit undertaking a cultural change.

Schultz was ultra-clear with his 7 directives, that every staff member had to embody:
(my additional comments in parentheses)

1. Be the undisputed [area of expertise] authority. (In Starbucks’ case the expertise is coffee)

2. Engage and inspire staff. (Staff have to believe the vision to live it)

3. Ignite the emotional attachment to customers. (Use members’ first names, listen to their stories)

4.  Make your [center] the heart of the local neighborhood. (Your Y, your J, your center can be the heart of the community)

5.  Be the leader in ethical sourcing and environmental impact. (There may be other higher priorities for nonprofits, like “be the leader in life-long engagement in our community.”)

6.  Create innovative growth platforms worthy of your [products/programs and services.] (If current programs and services don’t do justice to your brand, change them)

7. Deliver a sustainable economic model. (As important for a nonprofit as it is for retail establishments like Starbucks)

Cultural transformation doesn’t happen in a day—it’s a major commitment. Schultz shows us that strong leadership, clear directives, staff buy-in, passion, and pride are all critical to making the shift.

Trend Reports & Surveys: Strategic Vision

By | Industry, Leadership, Mission Delivery, Trends Reports & Surveys | No Comments

Strategic vision planning is on the minds of 93% of respondents. In fact, of strategic plans still in formative phases, one-third will launch by the end of the year.

The ability of the strategic plan to resonate with all of an organization’s stakeholders is critical to achieving mission-oriented results. Still, the majority of respondents report that overall activities are not aligning with their organization’s vision, and that the vision is not communicated properly across the association.


According to Tom Massey, Director of Daxko T2 Consulting, there are three ways to leverage the strategic vision in the work of your organization:

• Narrow down your goals and objectives to a “Big Five” or a “Big Three” to focus efforts and provide clear direction.
• Ensure the strategic plan is a living and breathing document that is revisited and refined regularly.
• Provide staff a level of ownership in the vision by making them responsible for individual initiatives relevant to their roles.

Developing Freds: Find, Reward, Educate and Demonstrate

By | Engagement, Industry, Leadership, Mission Delivery, Organizational Health | No Comments

Most every nonprofit organization deals with the challenge of training and developing front-line staff. Introducing new systems and work processes can be an even bigger challenge due to a lack of time and a management staff that’s already over-extended.

The result is often a front-line staff that’s ill-equipped to perform efficiently and that’s generally disengaged with your organization’s mission and vision. Many times this lack of staff development leads to high turnover, which brings its own set of challenges.

Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor, outlines 4 major things any staff leader can do to transform their front-line staff into superstars or…Freds.

1. Find: Finding Freds to serve as the front-line for your organization is critical. This entails attracting superstars by providing a nurturing, team-oriented environment that attracts high-quality staff members. It also includes discovering the dormant Freds within your organization who already exhibit extraordinary leadership qualities and have a passion for your cause. Hiring Freds from the start is also a great way to ensure you’ve got the right folks for the right job.

2. Reward: Rewarding Freds has to do with recognizing the amazing and expressing sincere appreciation. Rewards, whether tangible or intangible, offer feedback and recognition for your staff members’ contributions. Annual reviews are not enough to inspire your staff to consistently add value to your organization. Rewards and recognition serve to reinforce the positive role your staff members play in your organization’s larger mission.

3. Educate: Educating and equipping your Freds to do their best work is probably the single most important thing you can do. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your front-line staff is not concerned with the organization’s strategic goals and vision. Being clear and transparent about these goals empowers staff to find ways of contributing to the bigger picture instead of getting bogged down in the day to day. Be sure, however, to incorporate a little bit of fun and allow both veteran and new staff members to contribute to the educating process.

4. Demonstrate: Demonstrating is the quintessential responsibility of all leaders. Whether it’s demonstrating a process or embodying the leadership characteristics you’d like your staff to emulate, it all starts at the top. Seek to inspire but not intimidate—making sure your example is practical and achievable. After all, the impact you have on your staff translates directly into the type of impact they’ll have with those you serve.

Gain Dollars and Hours Back to Use Toward the Mission

By | Industry, Leadership, Online, Organizational Health | No Comments

For nonprofits, operating lean and at optimal efficiency doesn’t just go a long way—it’s pretty much required. The more time and money saved, the more time and money left over to be allocated toward doing the good work of the organization. Start saving time and money today.

With an operating system that gives visibility and holds you accountable, you’re more prepared to streamline processes, which makes for a healthier organization, enhances member service, and ensures nothing falls through the cracks.

Consider this example: do refund issues lie with the front desk, the program director, or with an executive? Who makes the call, and what’s the policy? How is it approved, and is it a pure refund or an account credit? Are you passing the member around to five different people on the same issue? Is money refunded in a timely manner, and is there an SOP around the process?

Some processes are centralized, and others happen differently across branches. Even if individuals know their responsibilities, providing visibility into others’ goals is a good idea. Make sure everyone knows what processes, and what parts of processes, they are responsible for so that no efforts are duplicated or neglected.

Investing the time upfront to train staff will save a lot of time in the long run. If you don’t invest in training staff at the start, you may end up spending more time, effort, and money training them after an issue arises. Getting out in front of staff training is good because it can drive a better staff experience. They become more confident in their jobs, and data is cleaner because they learn to input it correctly from beginning. Tip: find out if your software provider has opportunities for ongoing training for every budget, and if they will help you develop personalized training plans for your organization.

Any time a member can do something from the convenience of his own home and staff don’t have to, it’s a win-win. Staff can be freed up to interact with members instead of processing transactions. Using online account management, members should have the ability to:

• pay down balances (this cuts down on your collections)
• update credit card information (this cuts down on your returns)
• update contact information (this cuts down on returned mail and emails)