Former Starbucks LP exec shares community-building strategy in new book
WASHINGTON—It’s a fairly common business mantra: An organization is only as good as its people. But building a strong community within a company is not just good for improving operations or profitability, it’s also critical when it comes to safety and security. In a new book, Not a Moment to Lose: Influencing Global Security One Community at a Time, Francis D’Addario, emeritus faculty with the Security Executive Council, addresses the importance of community building in security planning.
D’Addario, who is the former vice president of partner and asset protection with Starbucks, said security professionals need to ensure company culture is included in their risk management efforts. “Our inability to comprehend what the risk requirements are, more often than not, are failures to engage our communities in a way that’s relevant to their own protection,” he said. “People are the most important commodity in an enterprise and we must do whatever they can before an event to make sure their people understand the risk and plan and are prepared for disaster.”
D’Addario said this community-oriented approach was critical during his tenure at Starbucks. When he applied for the position in 1997, D’Addario said the organization was interested in moving from a loss prevention approach to a global enterprise risk mitigation strategy. “I was coming in from a background of convenience stores, retail and quick service, so my niche and inclination was to land on the robbery- and violence-prevention side,” he said. However, this approach was not widely accepted at the executive level because the organization had only minimal instances of such issues. After D’Addario presented data for the executive team regarding the amount of money available in their stores and the probability of robbery and violence occurring, he was able to persuade them that these issues needed to be addressed in their security strategy.
D’Addario accepted the job on July 1, and on July 4th weekend Starbucks suffered its first triple murder following a botched robbery attempt. “Now I was coming into an environment where this was a precipitous situation that rocked the foundation of the organization and was the main focus …we wanted to make sure this never happened again,” he said.
The company integrated more technology in its stores, adding time-delay safes and adding audio and video capabilities, but D’Addario said the most critical component was developing cross-functional teams and ensuring employees were part of the security solution. “We had to take people, process and technology and take a look at risk on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Proving that the organization valued its employees, especially during this type of crisis, was an important element to the company’s ability to recover. D’Addario said they conducted several pilot programs in high-risk stores to quantify how important it was for employees to feel safe. And the results were impressive. “Managers that cared about their people had less theft, less turnover, less bad behavior and translated to a better customer experience and better safety records,” he said. Sales and profits were also up conspicuously in the test stores over control stores.
D’Addario said the message of his book resonates particularly now, during times of economic slump. “We just took a huge hit and downsized people and now we’re asking to squeeze another dime out them so Not a Moment to Lose really rings through in this environment,” he said. “Fundamentally we’ve got to get back to rebuilding our communities … we’re depending on them being engaged enough because they have to tell us where the process is wrong – it’s the operator at the store who often comes up with the solution.”