Things I Know 212 of 365: It’s good to experiment with breaking the rules

If you weren’t paying super close attention, you probably missed the story of the guy shared the screen shot of his mobile Starbucks card, letting it lose in the world as an experiment in giving and common good.
Those who downloaded the image to their mobile phones were able to make Starbucks purchases using the account’s balance.
Think of it as a global gift card.
The balance worked both ways. Not only did strangers several degrees removed caffeinate themselves on someone else’s dime, they through their dimes into the mix as well.
Jonathan Stark said he hoped the experiment prompted other acts of kindness for the general good.
What impressed me most about this story and what has shifted some of my opinions as a consumer was Starbucks’s role (or lack thereof) in the entire episode.
Eventually, the company pulled the plug on the common giving when another customer with a mind for experimentation revealed a way to hack Stark’s card.
Until that point, they were just watching.
It makes sense.
While I’m sure someone at corporate HQ wishes they’d come up with the whole thing as part of a guerilla marketing campaign, they didn’t.
But it worked just as well.
The company was in the news and making a profit for a news story that was essentially about people buying one another coffee.
Most impressive was Starbucks’s restraint.
What Stark did broke the company’s usage rules. They were well within their rights to shut the whole thing down as soon as news broke of Stark’s experiment.
They didn’t.
They realized someone was doing something they hadn’t anticipated and that the act was working toward their goals. At some point, someone made the call to see how it all played out.
While this is exactly what one would hope from corporations or anyone in a position of power, really, it’s often not the case.
Thanks a latte, Starbucks.
Really.

One thought on “Things I Know 212 of 365: It’s good to experiment with breaking the rules

  1. Very cool indeed. It would seem that consumers and corporations could both benefit from a model like this, not to mention the possibility of a slight increase in our own humanity when we realize that we're all just people, connected, and corporations can be and should be a part of “the people” if they want to succeed in our new world. Thanks Mr. Chase.

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