It’s a nice daydream, right? Feeling, or better yet, actually being ahead of the game? Sometimes trying to get on top of all your day-to-day business realities seems futile at best. At the end of the day you may feel more like a firefighter and less like a business owner or leader, managing the emergencies that occur even on the most “ordinary” days. All this reacting can make you feel like you’re merely surviving instead of thriving. When in survival mode things like strategic planning and creatively mending patterns of breakdown experiences fall by the wayside. In the madness of trying to stay above water, proactive thinking just doesn’t happen. Well let’s take a breath and at least consider the importance of positioning product passion into our businesses.
Principle 1 in my book Leading the Starbucks Way is Savor and Elevate. Can you imagine how different our lives would be if most business owners worked to infuse product passion into their entire workforce? What if those owners also believed it was their job to improve or elevate the products that they touch? How would your next visit to your dry cleaner, post office, electronics store, or supermarket be different? Better yet, imagine how your customers might feel if all your people were passionate about your products and felt responsible for elevating them with each touch.
It comes as no surprise that constantly reacting to your environment and circumstances is draining. But connecting your people to passion for your product or service is a life force. When we are passionate about something we not only find energy but we delight in sharing our enthusiasm with others.
What is one way that Starbucks works to foster this savor-and-elevate spirit, a spirit of passion if you will, into their culture? Rituals. For some people, the word ritual tends to conjure up images of religious or personal behavior; however, S. Chris Edmonds, a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies and co-author of Leading at a Higher Level, defines corporate rituals “as events which communicate and reinforce desired performance and values.” Chris believes, “Few senior leaders leverage corporate rituals as an intentional strategy to define and reinforce a company’s desired culture.”
Corporate rituals are powerful ways to create a common bond, inspire commitment and innovation, and build an integrated and effective culture. Authentic corporate rituals also define unique aspects of your culture and reinforce your business’s broader purpose, particularly when those rituals are supported by enriched experiential learning and congruent business strategy.
At Starbucks a powerful corporate ritual involves starting meetings with coffee tastings – it celebrates coffee and communicates that coffee is at the center of the brand. It drives a constant exploration into the nuances of the rich palate of coffee offerings at the company. Unless you are selling coffee that particular ritual will not be relevant to you. What can you do to create a pattern of behaviors that define and reinforce your company’s desired culture and proactively connect your people to a passion for your products or services?