Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Replacing a famous and well-respected CEO isn't easy.

It's a lot harder when your sales are disappointing the money hounds and some people are threatening to boycott your brand.

Who, therefore, would be Kevin Johnson?

The new Starbucks CEO just gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, in which he insisted that he really is the boss now. Really.

Customers might not realize it, but Starbucks hasn't exactly met all its sales targets lately.

The latest reason it's given is that its mobile app is too successful.

Starbucks claimed that too many people were going into the store and finding too many people waiting around -- many of whom had ordering via the app. So they walked out again.

Johnson told the Journal that this is being fixed, at least in some stores, by adding an extra barista whose sole job is meeting the mobile-ordering customers, giving them their orders and getting them swiftly out of the store.

Naturally, he didn't add that last part. That surely has to be the intention, however. You don't want loiterers. You want through traffic. And you want room for those who are queuing in the old-fashioned way.

Johnson also said that Starbucks is adding new bits to its tech to tell customers exactly when their orders will be ready. That way, they won't hang around and clutter the store. (See a pattern here? We want them to come in, stay three seconds and get out again.)

Then there's lunch. Starbucks is convinced that by offering more freshly-made food, it will have a chance of becoming everyone's natural stop for the whole day. The new fresh food will soon be launching in Chicago. I wonder how well it will be received. I wonder how fresh it will taste.

But the biggest issue some people have with Starbucks is its politics, which happen to be overt and, at the very least, leaning over to the left.

Many have claimed they will boycott the chain. Some claim they already have, all because Starbucks intends to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in the 75 countries in which it operates.

Will Johnson change this stance? He offered a resounding 'no.'

"If it's driven by our principles, I think it helps the company," he said. "Many of our veterans had worked with interpreters in Iraq and Afghanistan that are now refugees and so we saw that as very much aligned to the work we did hiring veterans. It helps us attract great talent, but it also shows that we care about helping create opportunities for people."

Johnson, just like his predecessor Howard Schultz, believes that Starbucks stands for something -- a human connection.

"Frankly, I think there should be more publicly traded companies that also think about not only creating shareholder value but how to contribute in a positive way to society," he said.

Oh, Wall Street will love that. It's all about making a positive contribution to society.

Perhaps the latest approach to mobile ordering will offer some of those who dislike Starbucks' politics -- but love its coffee -- an easier way to manage things.

They can order through the app, spend three seconds in the store and get out again. That way, their neighbors are less likely to see them in there.