Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rules For a Barista at Starbucks

In an effort to reduce the amount of time that a Barista must spend preparing a coffee-drink, and in theory the cost of preparing said coffee drink, Starbucks management has embarked upon a strategy, referred to endearingly as "lean thinking". This concept literally consists of a 10 person Starbucks management team that is tasked with traveling about the country - armed only with a Mr. Potatoe Head figurine - for the purpose of teaching the Baristas how to shave milli-seconds off of their time spent preparing our drinks in the morning. Starbucks makes the theoretical leap from preparation time to cost savings by assuming that, if folks are made to stand in line for too long at a Starbucks, they will eventually walk out; presumably taking their money elsewhere. Now, nobody likes to have their every move monitored by a boss, especially when that supervisor is urging you to do a task in 25 seconds that used to require 42. Furthermore, who is to say that the customer is always in preferance of a speedy preparation that gets him in and out of the door in rapid fashion? Personally, I prefer to have a little bit of time to chat it up with the Baristas in the morning, if only for 10-20 seconds. We know each others names, and they already know my order when I get to the counter - sometimes the order is even begun as I walk in the door, prior to my making it to the front of the line.

I'm absolutely certain that Starbucks employees absolutely abhhor the institution of these rigid "efficiency measures". From my perspective, "lean-thinking" immediately brought to mind a snippit of European history that exemplifies the conditions that bred the highly cultivated Marxist thoughts of the early 1800's: Rules For a German Factory Worker (1844). In case you're unsure, these rules are not a joke, and were actually printed on a pamphlet that was provided to every German factory worker (as explained in the rules). As can be seen by my favorite of the rules (just below), such strict impositions tend to inspire silent rebellions amongst the workers, leading to such undesirable things as urination on factory walls. The following is by far the best rule on the list, and is provided in case any of you refuse to click the link to view the full set of rules:

(10) Natural functions must be performed at the appropriate places, and whoever is found soiling walls, fences, squares, etc., and similarly, whoever is found washing his face and hands in the workshop and not in the places assigned for the purpose, shall be fined five silver groschen for the sick fund.
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