Lean Whiskey #37: Starbucks’ Gemba, Toyota’s Tour, Product Innovation & Lean Process Improvements


“I'll have a half-caff no-whip soy-milk chestnut praline latte… to-go.”


Here is the episode if you want to stream the audio:

In Episode 37, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays with some new (to us) holiday cocktails.

Mark tries the Bourbon Flip, and Jamie makes a Hot Buttered Bourbon. Neither will likely be in our regular rotation of cocktails, but they suit the “spirit” of the holiday season and might be a nice treat to make for guests. 

Your hosts explore the possible reinvention of Starbucks, which began with the return of CEO Howard Schultz. The stores have faced numerous pressures… including increasing volume, increasing complexity, and growing barista dissatisfaction.

Can these challenges be overcome by lean applied at the store level, or are more structural changes and innovations needed to get the job done? We explore a recent Wall Street Journal article about Starbucks' transformation and walk back to the beginnings of their lean journey over 10 years ago. Some of the problem statements examined include: SKU proliferation, new blenders, and store layouts. We may start seeing a brand new layout for Starbucks stores, although the promised improvements do not appear to be imminent. 

The hosts finish by exploring gift giving in the whiskey, and wine, genre, including a book recommendation from Mark on the history of the prohibition era in the US. 

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