Independent Research and Policy Advocacy

Coffee and conversations

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When you hold that cup of freshly brewed coffee where does that aromatic smell take you? What does that coffee remind you of?  You might not be alone when you say ‘Well, just coffee’; but there is more to it than you might think.

Precisely the point that Anil SG, IFMR Rural Finance (presently known as Dvara KGFS), emphasized with his Coffee-tasting exercise during a Spark Session last Friday. Inspired by a recent visit to Starbucks stores in Washington DC and interactions with senior managers of Starbucks, Anil threw some light on what makes Starbucks unique.

Anil SG discusses the green apron card

Kicking off his talk by detailing this coffee-tasting culture at Starbucks and a ritual to celebrate (with Coffee, of course) before any meeting, Anil shared his perspective on the culture, processes, training, people policies and community engagement of Starbucks. He had an engaging interaction with the audience on the lessons learnt and explored options on how to adopt some of the best practices.

Madhuri Menon, HR Head, shared her thoughts on the session: No visit to Starbucks had ever given me an inkling of the kind of thought, planning and people management that goes into ensuring that each customer has a memorable experience at every outlet.

This was the eye-opener that Anil’s Spark presentation of Friday revealed.  The culture building through rituals (which Anil mysteriously recreated and had us all guessing), tools for motivating partners (employees) at all levels, and processes for ensuring applications and replication across geographies was insightful.  And how we could apply some of these experiences in our setting and in building our culture was the next exploration.

One of the suggestions made by Anil seems an innovative ‘ritual’ – our equivalent of the coffee test – was to start all meetings and interactions in KGFS with a presentation of a caselet on any rural household. The process of our own rituals and culture building, of course, requires far more thinking through, but Dave’s suggested route – through use of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) process – to reach this goal was a good note to end a great learning journey.

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2 Responses

  1. The way in which Anil narrated, we got a feeling as if we are on a trip to Starbucks Store. Lot of learnings in terms of mentoring junior colleagues, ownership and instant appreciation of guys doing a good job.

  2. I think it is great that the Trust is building a culture of "aggressive sharing" of such insights and information. If only we could persuade more Trusters (and non-Trusters) to participate in commenting on the blog we would all be in sharing heaven!

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