You may think you take your coffee seriously. But Starbucks, which ranked No. 91 in the 2004 Training Top 100, has a boot camp for it.
Since 1997, store development partners for Starbucks have been going through Store Development Boot Camp, a required one-week overview of the process and participants in developing a new Starbucks store. Each session takes place at the Seattle headquarters. "Boot Camp is one aspect of a partner's immersion into the organization," says Stewart Frank, senior process training specialist for the coffee retailer.
During each session of Boot Camp, 15-20 participants—mostly store development partners, but also some from other operation areas—attend a week's worth of presentations by subject matter experts and recap activities. Presenters from the related departments cover how IT systems support development; how the real estate team selects store sites; how construction budgets are created, how to make purchasing decisions about materials, equipment and furniture; and how designers lay out a new store. Participants also learn how the store development finance team contributes, and how store development fits in with recycling and other corporate social responsibility issues.
Frank says the program is broken up with games and learning activities that help participants review what they've learned, such as a coffee tasting, a tour of downtown Seattle stores, and a social evening at the end of the program with presenters and other operations partners.
Frank estimates that 750 to 1,000 people have gone through the program. Ordinarily, the program takes place quarterly, but Frank says that due to demand it may become a monthly event before long.
Obviously, the program has changed over the years. As functions like facilities and asset management came online, presentations about those functions were added to boot camp. "When I joined Starbucks about 10 years ago, we didn't have existing stores, it was all about opening new stores," says Frank. "As our portfolio has gotten bigger, and we've had to add additional tactical skills and disciplines, boot camp has been adjusted and modified to reflect those new parts of the business so that when people come on, they get the full picture."
Partners generally attend boot camp between three and six months after their start date, because the program can be pretty daunting early on. But Frank says that may be changed to about 90 days after their start date, because partners' feedback indicates that they want that. "Once partners are in a position longer, we're finding that it is harder for them to get away because they're already in their jobs," Frank says. "[But] the longer it is before people come through, the more they say 'Wow, I would have liked to get this earlier, because it would have saved me a lot of trial and error.' " —H.D.