Starbucks had a problem with the system developed to keep their thousands of stores across the globe stocked. It wasn’t getting used. Too many partners (the Starbucks term for their employees) knew too little about the Supply Chain and Coffee Operations (SCCO), the company’s biggest business unit. Partners were placing orders outside of the SCCO. That was jeopardizing customer experiences, leaving stores unstocked, and damaging the bottom line. Starbucks needed behavior change. Behavior change is a strength of Interplay Experience Design.
Because we recognize the human challenge of understanding complexity, we knew we wouldn’t see behaviors change by increasing knowledge about the system. Instead, we wanted the partners develop their own insight into how each piece worked together for the whole; to see how the SCCO could work to meet their needs. Leveraging our gamification skills, we designed a visceral experience of each link in the supply chain. In this experience, partners became coffee beans.
Working with 5,000 square feet of still-unfinished space inside Starbucks headquarters, Be The Bean was a human-sized supply chain. From the coffee farm, the “beans” were filtered, roasted, and bagged before moving to the next critical–if not always recognized–stages of handling. That included picking and shipping SKUs and continued to the equivalent of curbside delivery at the neighborhood store.
“Interplay created a learning experience that exceeded our goals.”
The result was a team of partners well-versed in the complexities of a successful system with a willingness to use it. “Interplay tackled the challenge of communicating the complex world of our Starbucks supply chain…under tight time, budget, and space constraints…and created a learning experience that exceeded our goals,” said a Starbucks talent manager.
Be The Bean exceeded another goal important to Starbucks, accessibility. As Starbucks manager of Equal Opportunity Initiatives, Martha Lee Galeota explained, “Deaf people experience the world visually. The bean being born, the “bagging”, the transport from the mill to plant, the devanning, the screening, the cleaning, the roasting, the distribution – all an active, visual experience – made the world accessible in a way that most events are not.”