strategy & innovation

Mixing Guns, Coffee and Serendipity

Serendipity and I met up recently at this blog post. I happened to read it while on my way to the second morning of a two day strategy and innovation session, where we were about to reveal the company’s trade-off. I loved the post’s example of Intelligentsia Coffee in Los Angeles, where founder Doug Zell’s devotion to coffee resulted in the removal of the 20oz drink size from their menu. Why? From this Chicago Tribune article, he says:

“We’re focused on intensity of flavors and providing coffee in the way it tastes best. And it’s not in that size.” Zell claims that the large size “throws off the proportions of the beverage” in espresso drinks and you end up with “a watered-down, Big Gulpish version.

The serendipitous gem in the Brains On Fire blog post was this:

“In a market where major coffee brands are marketing all sorts of options (more variety of flavors, consistent introduction of new types of drinks, etc.), Intelligentsia deserves a salute for their commitment to providing the best coffee experience possible, even if that means decreasing options for customers.”

When you start down that road of strategic trade-offs, customer after customer (and well meaning employees trying to serve them) will tempt you with your version of the size option. Will you bend to please them? Or will you be strong like Intelligentsia, who stuck to their guns of flavour versus choice? The even bigger question: do you know the guns you’re supposed to be sticking to?