Skip to main content

The Starbucks Test

I proposed the test in February  2011; it's not really been widely accepted as the defacto standard - yet.

What is the purpose of the Starbucks Test?  To indicate to me, a Fluent Digital Immigrant, the likelihood of happiness when engaging with a new an unknown organizations.

The premise:  When one walks into a Starbucks one expects to increase their happiness.
Either by making a "fair" exchange for a coffee with lots of options, and the opportunity to speak in riddles (order: I'll have a tall, skinny, why bother) to the happy staff that deliver value in a very predictable and expected way.  Or to not exchange any of my hard earned money - and just soak-in the cool (or warm) air and spend some quality time using their wonderful space to think, chat, or while-away some hours.

The exchange is fair because you both agree to it. It is not the best price that a fair market should trend toward. But there are so many externalities that keeps this best price from being reached. One externality is that the free WiFi does cost them money weather you buy coffee or not while checking your email at the UPS Store next door.

The Starbucks Test - what's my likelihood of happiness engaging in a relationship with this company?
  •  Does the organization support a Digital Native's expectations of ubiquitous connectivity to the world (all apps that work in Starbucks also work in the organizations e.g. they do not block common sites or ports)?
  • Is the culture team-oriented (or command and control)?
  • Does the culture nurture fellowship?
  • Is learning one of the organizations core values (is it just a platitude like - "people are our most important asset" or worse they believe people are assets)?  An outcome of a learning organization is a safe to try and fail mind set.
  • Do I feel safe in the environment?  Will trust flourish?
  • Does the culture support making problems visible (even when one doesn't present a known solution to a ignored problem)?
  • Does the C-level view their role as "Servant Leadership" (or to be served - how do they draw the management structure; pyramid or tree)?

Define: Digital Native - see Marc Prensky's papers (he coined the term).
"Digital Natives. Our students today are all 'native speakers' of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet."

Define: Happiness - countries do it, communities do it, people do it, bees do it...
Sandra Bullock has done it (Blindsided for Happiness).  My Personal Values start with Happiness so obviously I've done it.
June 2014 -Your local coffee house has just become the largest Student Union on the planet.  Starbucks offers to pay last 2 years tuition to Arizona State (ASU online program) for their baristas (Seattle Times article).

Steven Johnson's TED talk explains the power of the coffee house in the industral reveloution in his talk 'Where good ideas come from'


The first organizational chart was a tree form describing the people and roles of the Erie Railroad with the executives at the bottom.


Examples of similar test:

The Nokia Test
If you have been around in the Agile world then you may have heard of the Nokia Test.  A simple 10 question test of an organization's (or team's) ability (or readness) to become a high performing Scrum team.

Where did the Nokia Test come from?
Jeff's latest version in PDF.

Bas Vode (CST) developed a small test for teams he was coaching at Nokia, it has been called Nokia Test.  In 2008, Jeff Sutherland adding a scoring system and referred to it as the "Scrum But" test.

My list of Agility assessments.

The Joel Test - 12 Steps to Better Code
Another example is the Joel Test.  I read and used this back before Danube introduced me to this Agile thing.  Joel said: "I've come up with my own, highly irresponsible, sloppy test to rate the quality of a software team. The great part about it is that it takes about 3 minutes."  Here it is (circa 2000) - The Joel Test.  From Joel Spolsky, or Fog Creek Software and Stack Exchange API.


The Turing Test
1950 - Alan Turing proposes the Turing Test for artificial intelligence.

Related to happiness and the pursuit thereof...
Blindsided for Happiness - Would you make the Sandra Bullock trade?

See Also:

HBR: Design Offices to be more like Neighborhoods a look at 21st C. office space design that encourages collaboration and interactions - by design.
Post a Comment

Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.









In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.





Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…

Webinar: Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done, Ready, and NO.

I was invited to participate in a Scrum Alliance Webinar.  Maybe you would like to listen to us in a discussion of techniques to collaborate at scale (remotely and with many people).  The topic is one that I've got some experience in discussions - yet I never seem to get to done...
Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done and Ready and NO for Distributed Teams
With Joel Bancroft-Connors, Agile Organizational Coach; David A. Koontz, Agile Transition Guide; and Luke Hohmann, CEO and Founder of Conteneo, Inc.


14 February 2018 11 a.m. ET (USA).




The Scrum Guide is pretty clear on the criticality of the definition of Done: "When a Product Backlog item or an Increment is described as "Done," everyone must understand what "Done" means. However, the Scrum Guide ALSO says that the definition of Done can "vary significantly per Scrum Team." This leads us to examine when and how the definition of Done should vary, how distributed teams should cr…

A T-Shaped 21st Century Knowledge Worker

Knowledge workers in the 21st Century must have many areas of deep knowledge, while also be capable of collaboration across multiple other domains with dissimilar T-shaped individuals.  This description of a person is a metaphor.  Compare it to the shape of the "I" in the classic saying there is no "I" in Team.


I first read about Scott Ambler's term "Generalizing Specialist" - but it's so hard to remember the proper order of the words... get it backwards and it has an inverted meaning... T-Shaped is easier to remember. 
A generalizing specialist is someone who:
Has one or more technical specialties (e.g. Java programming, Project Management, Database Administration, ...). Has at least a general knowledge of software development. Has at least a general knowledge of the business domain in which they work. Actively seeks to gain new skills in both their existing specialties as well as in other areas, including both technical and domain areas.  General…

A FAILURE to Communicate

I was working with a failing team some time ago.  I use "failing" to describe the outcome of the team - not the people on the team.  Are you OK with that description?



An issue arrose in the stand up - a team member that was to verify the quality of a procedure did so and reported that there were a few records that didn't match expectation in the data set.  Upon inquire the number of records not matching was over 2000.  Most people acknowledged immediately the exaggeration - I could tell by the laughter.  After about 10 minutes of discussing the details of the problem - it appeared the team had a handle on the specific situation.

I stopped the discussion and inquired if they could name the impediment.  One team member did a great job of describing the impediment as a _communication gap_.  Wonderful - I could work with that - the problem had a name and it didn't include anyones Proper Name.

"If the problem has a first name; we are going to have a problem."

I&#…