In June Daniel Corsten pointed out to us a very nice article about Starbucks and how they are continuing to rethink their operations (WSJ, “For Starbuck’s Baristas, It’s Back to the Grind, 6/17/09). In some cases Starbucks had let efficiency reduce the customer’s experience, such as grinding coffee only once a day. Now, they will grind throughout the day so that the shop is filled with the aroma of freshly ground coffee – less efficient but better for the customer. That said, they are not backpedaling on all efficiency. For example, they are making their coffee brewers more flexible (instead of brewing only one variety, now they will switch) and consequently customers will experience stockouts of their favorite variety less often. And they have a team of 10 people focused on bringing to their shops “lean thinking” alla the Toyota Production System. Given that labor represents 24% of revenue, even slight improvements in motion can make a significant difference. That means looking for how the company can reduce the walking, reaching, and bending that goes into the making of a cup of java. Classic process analysis. (WSJ, Latest Starbucks Buzzword: ‘Lean’ Japanese Technique 8/4/09). The changes seem to be having a positive effect – they reported better than expected fiscal third quarter profits this year (WSJ, 7/22/09). They’ll need to keep it up – McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts also understand the importance of lean in how they make their coffee.