Situation: Like many leadership teams, Aladdin had smart, driven, passionate leaders with strong views on the business. However, Aladdin was unable to operate effectively. It’s battles and conflicts had become epic and public. The turbulence was damaging the company’s “team-centric” culture. Worse, decision-making was slow on major customer opportunities which often ended in embattled, emotional internal arguments. Customers were frustrated. Executive leadership was more frustrated. They had tried many tactics to bring the team together, but nothing produced sustainable change or results.

The Challenge: Move Aladdin leadership from broken to breakthrough, operating with high integrity, unity, and renewed focus.

What We Did: We conducted a 360-feedback survey throughout the team and organization. We carefully crafted and delivered a global “listening tour” with one-on-one guided conversations to explore and understand deeply the situation from multiple perspectives. More than allowing a confidential forum to release the pressure of overdue dialogue, the conversations surfaced a high-res view of the key issues, early ideas on potential solutions and a collective desire to get the team unstuck. Like many busy leadership teams, few of Aladdin’s leaders considered or connected to the company’s overall vision, mission and values. On top of this, the team lacked a shared mission, a personal translation of its values, a clear charter outlining its principles for operating together.

Through a series of carefully facilitated individual dialogs, leadership workshops, expert perspectives on elite teams, and informal social gatherings, the team navigated difficult discussions and shifted attention toward building a shared, inspiring vision of their ideal state. From here, we helped them author a shared mission, team values and a charter to guide their daily interactions. The team presented their operating blueprint to executive leadership, who applauded albeit with some reserve. Indeed, the proof would be in weeks ahead. To land the charter, the team initiated every team meeting with a brief discussion of how they honored one operating principle together. In addition, individual coaching sessions planted the new values and principles with the team’s more influential, disruptive leaders.

The result: Never perfect and always progressing, the team gained a renewed sense of purpose, values and operating practices to confidently operate at a new level. Over the next 18 months, the Aladdin team began to form new bonds. They went on to deliver initiatives that doubled the business and delivered the highest profit levels in the brands history. 360 feedback and follow-up interviews revealed a sustained “night and day” improvement. Executive leadership was relieved to see a team that was newly focused and more aligned. The once edgy and more explosive leaders were approachable, trustworthy and collaborative.

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“In a matter of months, Stuart lead like no other. He brought together one of the most divided teams and disjointed businesses into one cohesive team with clear priorities, structure and process. Then, against all odds, they plowed ahead and doubled the business together. It was actually pretty extraordinary, and inspiring.” 

Ross Dohrmann
Vice President, Gemline



Situation: Starbucks’ international food operated in 52 markets outside of the United States in a decentralized and localized business model. In some cases, no body proactively managed the food business in markets, leaving it to their food suppliers and the beverage team to oversee when it had time. Other regions and markets had highly dedicated food managers – such as Europe, the UK, France and Philippines teams. In all cases, the teams rarely connected and worked together and operated their business almost wholly in a vacuum.

Challenge: Build a Starbucks international food team with shared mission, strategy, programs and operating processes.   

What We Did: We with a listening tour, immersing in the perspectives of Starbucks partners responsible for food from around the world. We gained a deep understanding of the needs and opportunities of international food program and the team.

Starbucks has a clear share purpose – “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one cup, one store, and one neighborhood at a time.” Through a series of regional “Food Forums,” the team translated the Starbucks purpose into a shared, inspired mission for the food platform. As a coffee company, the shared mission was largely apparent to the team, although not easy to achieve: “To create a Starbucks food experience as good as its coffee experience.”

With this shared mission as our handle, the current food leadership team aligned upon 4 shared priorities to grow the business and upgrade the quality of the food experience. In order to execute the strategy, we hired, trained and lead a new international food team and, together, authored and unleashed a long list of breakthrough initiatives and innovation.

The Result: International markets generated strong positive comp growth. Food quality and consistency achieved new, higher levels of customer satisfaction and fit with the brand. The food team owned and led the food platform together, creating a sustainable, competitive Starbucks quality food program at the global and local level.

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