"Innovation is CREATIVITY that ships" (Steve Jobs). Not a PowerPoint slidedeck.

In order to influence lawmakers resolve the fiscal cliff deadlock, Starbucks has launched a come together campaign. The longer we remain perched atop the fiscal cliff, we will certainly lose our way.


A “zero sum mentality” approach to resolve the fiscal cliff is counterproductive to America.

The current state of mind in Washington is an ingrained “zero sum mentality” approach as evidenced by the rhetoric on the fiscal cliffhanger:

“In the absence of an agreement, ‘Plan B’ is the plan”

The protagonist in the fiscal cliff story is America. The goal in the fiscal cliff story is to successfully achieve the deficit reduction and rebalance the budget. The obstacles include, but is not limited to, the zero sum mentality in play.


Dialogue Mapping is an emergent way for peeling the onion and delayering the conversational fluff in any wicked problem and creating a comprehensive and coherent picture of the problem space and proposed solutions. The visual representation of the dialogue helps in engaging and holding the attention of a large and diverse population.

“The incubation of a culture of collaboration often requires a deprogramming of old habits.”
Paul Culmsey & Kailash Awati. The Heretics Guide to Best Practices, iUniverse, Inc., 2011.


A cup of Starbucks coffee with representative lawmakers and special interests and common (wo)man from Main Street will provide an opportunity for:

  • A warmup of the alliancing group of lawmakers who have a shared passion and inclination to resolve the fiscal cliff challenge
  • Kicking off the behavior modification therapy program to (1) change the minds of the stakeholders from adversarial habits of confrontation towards “Walking in Another Person’s Shoes” (WAPS) and (2) achieving cooperative consensus that are authentic win/win outcomes
  • Sustaining the pre-disposition to collaboration in order to build an indivisible state of mind in every senator with a bias for action
  • Seek outcomes that are ethical, moral and responsible

The cooperative actions as outlined above are individual choices by putting the nation first on top of the agenda in 2013 and embarking on a journey of forging shared understanding, shared commitment, jugaad innovation and reciprocity.

fiscal cliff tipping point

The growth engine that has powered Starbucks’ business model is a boundary-spanning, outside-in focus to serve the needs of the revenue-paying customer by climbing the ladder of coordination, collaboration, clout, capability and connections (in short, the 5Cs) in order to build organizational resilience. Put simply, the logic of value creation for the strategic alliance that binds Starbucks and its business partners is about “coming together” in a consistent manner that preserves trust. In similar vein, Washington has a not-to-miss opportunity to borrow a page from Starbucks.

As playright Jean-Baptiste Moliere wrote, “We are responsible not only for what we do but for what we don’t do.”

When the rubber meets the road, purposeful action speak louder than campaign rhetoric. This is not just food for thought but the need of the house in order to enable the nation compete for the future. The through line is about changing the lawmakers’ minds about things that matter and engaging in collaborative problem solving, while abstaining from sensationalism in tweet-sized sound bites which is akin to a “never ending pasta bowl of non-issues” (observation heard by a commentator on NPR).

Author: Last Mile Resource

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