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For Starbucks, One Picture (Puzzle) is Worth More Than 1000 Words

Last week, I arrived at one of my local ‘offices’ (Starbucks) early. After ordering from Vanessa, I go to my seat on the corner of the long table and notice three large boxes and a single piece of paper near the middle of the table. They are reorganizing the in-store shelving with their new items. With no one else in line to order, Vanessa comes to the table and starts opening the boxes.

She looks at the piece of paper and then makes adjustments to the shelves.

She looks at the paper again and searches in the boxes for items.

She looks again and then carefully positions items on the shelves.

This back and forth goes on for several minutes until she places the last item on the shelves. She steps back and holds up the page, glancing between the page and her creation. She has a slight grin on her face as she makes final adjustments and starts cleaning up the now empty boxes.

I look at the shelving and I am amazed. It looks beautiful. I ask her how she knew exactly where to place each item the first time so it fit perfectly on the shelves. She shows me the piece of paper in her hands. 

Starbucks On a single page, she has all the directions she needs to basically solve a puzzle. The shelves in her store need to look like the picture on the page and her puzzle pieces are the shelving and the items in the three boxes.

With over 2,000 locations, Starbucks Corporate could have gone for the four page, 54 step, 1000 word process that details every excruciating step.

  1. Remove all the contents from the existing shelves.
  2. Remove the shelves.
  3. The second shelf is pin location #10.
  4. On the first shelf place four medium sized cups in a two by two grid…Yadda, Yadda, Yadda

but it opted to instruct visually and make it simple, intuitive, and fun for each location to do this on their own. It was easy to see her sense of accomplishment placing the last puzzle piece.

Pictures give us the opportunity to instantaneously communicate an idea and help to remove any confusion that might accompany written instructions. In the image above, there is no ambiguity about the placement of the small red cups. The red cups are on a shorter shelf and it is the second one from the bottom.

See, it took you longer to read my description of where the red cups are than to look at the picture and see where they are.

Remember that people are wired for visual communication so take every opportunity and use pictures and symbols to get your message across.    

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One Comment on “For Starbucks, One Picture (Puzzle) is Worth More Than 1000 Words”

  1. Heidi Koehler June 19, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    Very good my love

    Sent from my iPhone

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