Earlier this year Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was harpooned by the media and customers for the poorly conceived “Race Together” campaign that encouraged baristas and store managers to engage customers in conversations about racial tension and inequality by writing #RaceTogether on coffee cups. The backlash was so bad that Starbucks’ head of communications was forced to temporarily suspend his Twitter account, which threw more gas on the fire, and several “town hall” meetings were called with employees and shareholders to deal with the shitstorm it kicked off. In an interview with FastCompany magazine, he commented, “[This mistake] reminds me every day that we’re not invincible. It was my idea, and it was a complete fu**-up.”
Reading about this reminded me of a recent coaching call with a very successful, long-term member running a multimillion-dollar MSP. I listened as he shared his own shitstorm of problems that had all cropped up in a relatively short period of time. They ran the gamut from losing one really key employee to operational nightmares, having to fire a handful of rogue employees only to then have a number of good clients leave within a short period of time, some to “natural causes” such as acquisition but others due to service failures resulting from the employee turnover.