Cultivating Passion and Purpose: The Power of Rituals in Business

Many leaders constantly manage daily challenges or spend a lot of time “putting out recurring fires.” Others find a way to manage daily operational challenges with minimal effort – leaving ample time to ignite a passion for products, services, and customer experiences across their organization.

In my book, Leading the Starbucks Way, I explore how leaders drive product and experience passion through a business principle I refer to as Savor and Elevate. To appreciate the transformative impact of this principle, imagine every team member had the passion of an entrepreneur when it comes to delivering loyalty-building products, services, and experiences. How would your business differ if every team member (no exceptions) was enculturated to exude the passion that fueled your company’s founders?

From the perspective of the Savor and Elevate principle, Starbucks leaders drive team members to product knowledge and experience delivery zeal through a series of cultural rituals. These purposeful and repetitive events communicate and reinforce the company’s values and performance aspirations. In essence, Starbucks’ rituals (and all corporate rituals, for that matter)are both symbolic and foundational. They are threads repeatedly woven together to craft strong, cohesive cultural fabric.

Starbucks’ rituals include beginning meetings with coffee cuppings (tasting flavor notes from beans grown in different regions) and training partners (team members) on the history of coffee and differences in growing regions. It also involves helping Starbucks partners appreciate their role in the “last 10 feet” of a coffee bean journey from farm to cup. Leaders highlight how partners can uplift their customers’ day and honor coffee farmers by delivering brewed beverages in a memorable and loyalty-building way.

Savoring and Elevating spotlight the importance of:

  1. Igniting Product Passion: Encourage employees to master their knowledge of your products, services, and desired experiences. Share customer testimonials to demonstrate the impact of their work.

  2. Cultivating a Transcendent Spirit: Recognize and celebrate team members demonstrating product, service, and experiential passion. Create moments where employees can share their enthusiasm and pride in their work.

  3. Implementing Meaningful Rituals: Develop rituals that resonate with your company’s mission and values. Ensure rituals are inclusive and build a sense of community among staff.

  4. Promoting Experiential Learning: Offer opportunities for employees to experience your products or services firsthand. Use experiential learning to reinforce product knowledge and company values.

  5. Reinforcing Company Culture: Regularly communicate your company’s desired culture and optimal customer experience. Help team members see how their roles support the desired culture and customer experience. Align business strategies with culture to maintain brand consistency.

  6. Evaluating and Evolving Rituals: Regularly review rituals to ensure they remain relevant and impactful. Be open to evolving rituals as your company and culture grow.

Triathlete Avinash Kushwaha said it best when it comes to rituals and business culture:

The world of business often emphasizes strategy, innovation, and performance metrics. However, amidst these elements lies a subtle yet potent force that shapes organizational culture and success – Rituals. These repetitive, symbolic acts wield a profound influence on employee morale, teamwork, and the overall fabric of a company.

To learn more about increasing ritual in your business, please contact me at

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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