Howard Schultz on Execution

On Monday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz unveiled a new initiative where the company would cover the cost of two years of education at Arizona State University for all employees. Besides the value of promoting constructive employee benefit programs, a takeaway for leaders is in the need to execute.

Today we will become the first U.S. company to provide free college tuition for all our employees. – Howard Schultz on The Daily Show

After Starbuck’s  announcement, a positive example of corporate do-gooding was immediately attacked by critiques of the program. Yet, too often, we are crippled by the overwhelming obstacles, complexity, and intricacies of a project. We wait for a product to be perfect before rolling it out. And we then wonder why nothing gets rolled out.

Planning is important. Risks should be mitigated. But you cannot sit on every project in anticipation that it will one day be flawless. This will inevitably lead to a lack of output from your team. The competition will race by as you try to fix one more potential bug.

Starbucks will change their college tuition program with time. They’ll see what works and what doesn’t. But in a time when the news is filled with corporate greed and maleficence, let’s congratulate Starbucks on trying to do the right thing. It may not be perfect, but rolling an initiative out is the first step towards doing something, anything.

Amelia Earhart once said, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” Create a deadline. Put everything you have into developing a fully formed first iteration. Make a list of all the ways you want to make the product better and save it for the 2.0 version. But focus on getting it out there.