Paper Sample on Critical Thinking and the VUCA Concept: Solving Organizational Challenges at Panera and Starbucks

Published: 2023-10-06
Paper Sample on Critical Thinking and the VUCA Concept: Solving Organizational Challenges at Panera and Starbucks
Essay type:  Problem solution essays
Categories:  Business Problem solving Starbucks Community
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1312 words
11 min read


Critical thinking is essential for solving issues and change for every organization. Leaders in the organization must learn the concept of critical thinking to execute it effectively when solving problems. This can be used together with the VUCA concept. To solve the Mosh Pit problem, Panera used the VUCA concept monitoring certain key factors in the company to come up with a strategy for critical thinking that will help solve their problems and boost performance, which includes Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (Popova, 2018). The company needs to understand that they should know that the business world keeps changing and is becoming less predictable for the business to grow. Panera learned this the hard way, which had an impact on its bottom line. Panera had to adapt quickly to rescue them from the losses while they struggled to satisfy its customers' needs. This paper will focus on critical thinking and the concept of VUCA to solve issues in a company while focusing specifically on the Panera Mosh Pit problem and that of Starbucks when Johnson was compelled to address the restaurant's problems.

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Problem Statements

Starbucks is a leading chain of coffee shops globally. It was facing racism problems when one manager called the authorities on a black customer for suspecting that he was planning criminal activity. Johnson used the Starbucks shared values as the corner Stone of his decision because he considered making Starbucks a community hub that could bring different people together without considering their race or ethnicity (Wechsler, 2018). As a leader, it is essential to bring the community together, and what the manager did was the discrimination of race. Johnson acted with his leadership capacity to ensure that Starbucks apologized to the victims and the community. He also assured that the community involved in the apology to make them feel comfortable with Starbucks as one of their community stores. The mission and goals are to ensure that they serve people of the community without any bias. Starbucks ' goals are meant to train its employees to connect with customers and handle issues (Popova, 2018). This is why it was important for the CEO to close down all Starbucks stores to be given bias training to develop a third space policy. Johnson was able to handle the incident immediately, which was a good move, and it was able to bring up a positive relationship between the customers and employees. This move encourages a good connection between the employees and customers because they can share the same platform as a community and shared values.

Using the concept of critical thinking, Johnson was able to accept that the manager was wrong. His decision should ensure that it focused on ethics and morality. That is why he had to ask the manager first to step down and closed 8,000 stores worldwide to first go through some ethical training to avoid the problem repeating itself in the future. His apology to all customers globally and the two victims was humbleness and morality; hence it brought awareness to the customers of an ethical issue (Wechsler, 2018). The arrest had brought about a negative difference to the communities served by Starbucks. Still, through Johnson's apology and actions, it was able to bring a positive image to the customers and the employees.

Johnson showed discipline by accepting that the manager acted wrongly when he commanded for the arrest. Johnson also took responsibility and responded according to his capacity by asking the manager to step down and develop a new system to train the employees on ethical issues. Johnson gives the employees on techniques they can use to collaborate with the authority when customers cause a disturbance. Through how Johnson solved the problems, he showed that he understands his role as the CEO and how they should solve a crisis in an organization. Johnson's act had a significant impact on the world when designing companies' ethical systems, and this impact was beyond the Starbucks Company. This sent a good precedent for other companies to follow, especially regarding how to solve an organization's ethical issues.

Critical Thinking Framework

Critical thinking theory by (Kallet, 2014) is identified to evaluate and analyze information and consider the possible ways of handling problems caused. According to an argument by (Kallet, 2014), it says this case Is termed back in the older days and back to older methods of determining to achieve information used then by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. However, many departments nowadays value critical thinking as a theory to greater heights and help in solving many problems. Thinking critically is an essential skill due to the head of the human chief operating officer held by the World Economic Forum realized that it would be the second most important skill in the workplace only to problem-solving ideas. The two scenarios in Panera's case and that of Starbucks applied critical thinking, which helped find the solution for the situations.

Applying the VUCA Concept

Volatility and Uncertainty

Panera had to solve this mosh pit problem. Volatility was used to act on the situation and solution by confronting it with something unexpected and the significant change of using online orders and deliveries (Paul & Elder, 2019). The restaurant saw this according to the rise in prices when the customers increased due to the online orders. On the other hand, Uncertainty was applied by focusing on unknown situations, which was unpredictable. Panera could not predict what could happen through the change, and they were not sure of how they could proceed.

Complexity and Ambiguity

Panera had to focus on the concept of complexity in the restaurant business, which involved various working sections that helped navigate the change. This is because the confusion can manifest because of a lack of proper information. Because of the multiple possibilities in online business, things can get complex (Paul & Elder, 2019). On the other hand, Panera had to look at the Ambiguity of the situation that can exist in the unknown or unexpected world, hence making the circumstances unclear because the information given to them was vague and the signs that they had gotten crossed because of mixed data.


In conclusion, every organization needs to use Critical Thinking when solving issues and changes in the company. This applied to Panera when solving the Mosh Pit problem. At the same time, Starbucks CEO Johnson focused on essential factors in Critical thinking to handle the issue of racism in the company. Critical thinking is vital for it helps team members and persons more effectively to problem-solving, and it enables them to recognize possible ideas for solutions that are not most likely at first. Moreover, critical thinking can help resolve many conflicts in companies and job areas when individuals consider a trade of possible approaches to problem-solving. The paper was able to apply the Kallet theory of thinking smart, which includes essential ideas when it comes to critical thinking in action for companies. The two companies used this theory to solve the problems and changes they had to ensure that the company doesn't make losses and increase performance. The VUCA concept is also essential for these scenarios because the companies used it to ensure that they have a proper view of the change or issue. The companies can now incorporate critical thinking to come up with a solution for the situation.


Kallet, M., Kallet, M., & Patterson, D. (2014). Think smarter : Critical thinking to improve problem-solving and decision-making skills. Retrieved from

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2019). The miniature guide to critical thinking concepts and tools. Rowman & Littlefield.

Wechsler, S. M., Saiz, C., Rivas, S. F., Vendramini, C. M. M., Almeida, L. S., Mundim, M. C., & Franco, A. (2018). Creative and critical thinking: Independent or overlapping components?. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 27, 114-122.

Popova, N., Shynkarenko, V., Kryvoruchko, O., & ZĂ©man, Z. (2018). Enterprise management in VUCA conditions. Economic annals-XXI, (170), 27-31.

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Paper Sample on Critical Thinking and the VUCA Concept: Solving Organizational Challenges at Panera and Starbucks. (2023, Oct 06). Retrieved from

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