Gaming the System at Starbucks
Following up on last week’s post on Starbucks operations, I found an example of “gaming the numbers” in a different post.
“Gaming the numbers” is a common phenomenon when people are pressured to hit certain numbers (a dynamic that Deming preached against, this idea of “management by objectives” being dysfunctional). I’m often reminded of the three things that can happen when people are pressured to hit numbers (credit to Brian Joiner):
- They can distort the numbers,
- They can distort the system, or
- They can improve the system.
#1 and #2 are usually much easier to do. Click on the “Gaming the Numbers” link at the bottom of the post to see more examples.
Apparently, Starbucks has a staffing/labor formula that’s based on workload and volumes. Some stores have new warming equipment (for the breakfast sandwiches some stores are selling) that can also be used for warming muffins or other pastries. At least one employee found a way to distort the system:
“It also helps, though it’s cheating a little, to press the warming button for EVERY pastry, even when you don’t warm them. We earn 1 hour of labor for every ten times we push it per hour during peak. And believe me, that adds up.”
Ah ha, they’ve found a way to get more labor allocated or budgeted.
Another employee posted a warning:
“Adrienne, just to warn you…The P&AP dept will be looking for that trend in stores and it will be treated as time theft. Please learn a different way to increase labour without “cheating” you could get into trouble!”
The original poster wrote back and said it was her District Manager who had shared the idea!!
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