How to Leverage Starbucks’ Strategy for Breakthrough Growth

By most accounts, Starbucks is an amazingly successful company. Over the years, they have had some periods of tremendous growth and profitability!

Although there are many factors that contribute to their success, there are three things that are absolutely critical;

  1. Vision – The business leader must have a compelling vision for a product or service that the marketplace needs
  2. Leadership – The leader must set up and lead the organization to deliver the product and service
  3. Focus – The leader must keep the focus of the organization on delivering the vision

This can be a daunting task for any leader of any business . . . . especially for a business that is as large and growing as quickly as Starbucks.

Recently, I read the hardcover version of “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul” by Howard Schultz. Schultz takes the reader through the history of Starbucks, its downturn in 2008 and subsequent resurgence and growth. Buried in the midst of this story he gives a great example of a simple tool that he leveraged to assist him with the three critical tasks listed above.

Starbucks’ “Transformation Agenda”

Schultz created a simple, one-page tool that he calls the “Transformation Agenda.” He came up with this tool after some coaching from another business genius, Michael Dell. Dell had a similar tool that he was using for his highly dynamic company.

The Transformation Agenda is very simple. It contains two major components:

  1. Our Aspiration – this is the vision and/or mission for the organization (see What is Your Compay’s Vision)
  2. The Big Moves – these are 5 to 10 major initiatives that the business must accomplish over the year

Each of the Big Moves must:

  1. Be in alignment with the vision, mission and values of the organization
  2. Contribute to achieving the vision
  3. Come complete with the components of a SMART goal (see What Are Smart Goals)

Finally, when you build your Transformation Agenda, make sure that you:

  1. Keep everything succinct enough so that it fits on one page
  2. Track each of the Big Moves with metrics and drive them to completion
  3. Include the metrics and Big Moves’ status on the business reporting dashboard to your organization
  4. Communicate the Transformation Agenda and the progress against the Big Moves to your organization continuously

Take Action

Every successful organization needs a strong leader with a compelling vision and unwavering focus! This vision and focus need to be communicated to the organization continuously. Spend some time this week and record your vision and Big Moves in a Transformation Agenda for your business.

Start by downloading the Onward Template. You can find it in the Operations Engine section of the Business Tools on this site.

Also, review the following previous posts and take a look at the tools they describe:

  1. How to Get Powerful Business Results
  2. Why You Need To Download This Powerful Tool


There is no magic power in having a dream. You can’t just wait for it. You have to work for it. And you need to have a strategy that gives direction and focus to that work.” John C. Maxwell


How do you communicate vision and goals to your organization? Leave your comments below!

Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you would like a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at or at 587-227-5179.

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