Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Recently I have started reading the highly acclaimed book, Execution, written by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan. The book has a fascinating focus on the execution of goals or more specifically the lack of execution, primarily due to people not knowing how.

Many people regard execution as detail work that is beneath the dignity of a leader. People generally are not effective and do not place a premium on getting things done. Most companies have the same core processes; one for people, one for strategy and one for budgeting/operations. When you manage these processes in depth you get healthy results. The key is identifying how we are going to turn the plan action into specific results for growth and productivity. We need to ask ourselves; are we staffed with the right people to execute the plan? Do they believe what we believe?  If not, what are we going to do about it?

Most operating plans are strictly a numbers exercise with little or no details on the plan of action for growth, markets, productivity or quality. Most companies have no productivity culture, they do have matrixes showing input verses output, but they do not have a companywide plan for real productivity growth. Telling people they need to get faster is not effective. The basis for real productivity growth is education and training.

Leading the processes is the real job of a leader running a business. The leader has to believe in the processes and they have to be actively involved in them.

Stock analysts look to see whether a company is showing progress towards meeting their quarterly goals. Companies have a higher valuation if they execute better than their competitors.

It has been shown that most strategic plans do not work out in practice. Why? lack of focus on execution. Time and money needs to be spent on implementation of the action plan and the tracking of key performance indicators. Tasks need to be listed with who will be championing the task and when will it be completed by.

Execution is not just tactics; it is a discipline and a system. It has to be built into a company’s strategy, their goals and their culture. Many business leaders fall victim to the Gap, the gap is the difference between promises made and results their companies have delivered.

Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that companies need to master to have a competitive advantage. Strategies do not deliver results unless they are converted into actionable tasks.

Change is hard, new habits must displace old habits. It is fact that the best way to change behaviour (habits) is spaced repetition.  I will give you an example of how this works on all of us. I will tell you a word and you think of the first word that pops into your mind, remember do not think about it.

1)      Coke     2) Tide     3) Tim Horton      4) Crest

Your answers were probably (pop or Pepsi), laundry detergent, coffee or donuts and toothpaste. Years ago Coke was a type of fuel used in furnaces, Tide was what the oceans did due to the gravitational pull of the moon, Tim Horton was a hockey player and Crest was the top of a mountain. Spaced repetition through advertising has changed your belief on what these words mean, amazing.

Execution is hard, primarily due to people not knowing how to deliver results that are desired. It was reported in August of 2016 in CNN Money that 10% of Americans owned 76% of the wealth in America. Harvard business did a study on the wealthiest people in American and they found a common thread, over 95% of the people surveyed accredited their success to setting and executing goals. 

My hope is this article will inspire you to look at how execution is being performed by you and your team.  If you currently are not getting the results you desire it is because your goal and your plan of action is not detailed enough.

Good Luck in developing new habits and start executing.

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