Starbucks’ products have become an unaffordable luxury for many. As revenues and profits have fallen during the economic downturn, CEO Howard Schultz realized that “the company needed to change almost everything about how it operates.” The recession and growing competition forced Starbucks to become more streamlined.
At one of the first stores to implement the “lean” techniques, the store manager looked for ways for her employees to be more efficient with simple things like keeping items in the same place, moving drink toppings closer to where drinks are handed to customers, and altering the order of assembly. After two months under the new methods, her store experienced a 10 percent increase in transactions.
1. Would you describe Starbucks’ production/operations technology in its retail stores as unit, mass, or process? Explain your choice. (Hint: You’ll probably need to review this material found in Chapter 5’s “From the Past to the Present” box.) How does its production/operations technology approach affect the way products are produced?
2. What uncertainties does Starbucks face in its value chain? Can Starbucks manage those uncertainties? If so, how? If not, why not?
3. Go the company’s Web site, www.starbucks.com, and find the information on the company’s environmental activities from bean to cup. Select one of the steps in the chain (or your professor may assign one). Describe what environmental actions it’s taking. How might these affect the way Starbucks “produces” its products?
4. Research the concept of lean manufacturing. What does it mean? What benefits does lean offer? How might a business like Starbucks further utilize the concepts of being lean?