"Starting a Conversation" Is Not A Strategy

A friend of mine runs a firm that helps companies document their business processes. He usually starts by asking senior managers the simple question: 

"Can you draw that for me?"

Many need to defer to other team members. Others fumble and fail. But most are genuinely enlightened by how the simple act of diagramming a process helps identify its deficiencies and ways to improve it. 

Starbucks should do the same thing with its maligned #RaceTogether campaign, which may already be too damaged to salvage. 

There's a colossal gulf between "racing together" and "ending racism"—one far bigger than a barista with a Sharpie can fill. 

The next time an agency recommends that your company "start a conversation," ask the earnest but naive team the question, "so, what happens next?" 

And then ask them to draw it. 

POSTSCRIPT: Starbucks had a social-change blueprint—"Six Lessons Learned from Create Jobs for USA," which the company launched in 2011—but ignored it. Lesson #5: "Measurable performance and impact are essential."