Posted: August 22, 2012
Make it so!
The keys to great executionBy Todd Ordal
“Execution is a systematic process of rigorously discussing hows and whats, questioning, tenaciously following through and ensuring accountability. … In its most fundamental sense, execution is a systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it. Most companies don’t face reality very well.”
—Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done”
In large measure, executing well means you already planned effectively, put the right people and tools in place, and are now looking for deviations from expectations and effectively problem solving before the deviation becomes “normal” and, of course, rewarding success when plans are met!
Problem solving comes in four varieties based on whether you’re talking about a past or a future problem and whether you want to deal with cause or effect. Your actions are in one of four buckets:
• Corrective: Dealing with the cause of a past problem
• Preventive: Dealing with the cause of a potential future problem
• Adaptive: Dealing with the effect of a past problem
• Contingent: Dealing with the effect of a future problem
If you’re going to execute well, you’ll have to work in all four areas. Caution! Be extremely careful that you don’t spend too much time adapting. I see many companies spend far too much time and money adapting to things they should correct, such as poor-performing employees, ineffective systems or the wrong resources.
Let’s assume you have a sound, well-articulated strategy that identifies how you’ll prosper in your competitive environment. (If you don’t, what will you execute?) At that point, it’s all about execution, but you’ll need a few tools to help you. It’s not all about intent. …
The tools you establish must allow you to:
• Convert strategy into action plans.
• Monitor progress against your plan.
• Problem solve when you’re off plan.
• Reward the successful progress toward your plan.
• Correct behavior, actions or tactics that aren’t effective.
In addition to tools, however, you need the right leadership behavior. Those executives who execute well have the following skills:
• They ask great questions.
• They have honest and assertive conversations.
• They stay focused.
• They make tough decisions.
• They use a collaborative approach to building the plans and use the chain of command to follow up.
The right strategy, good plans, effective tools and the right behavior lead to great execution.
“Make it so!”
--Jean Luc Picard, Captain, USS Enterprise
Todd Ordal is President of Applied Strategy LLC. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He speaks, writes, consults and advises on issues of strategy and leadership. Todd is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Follow Todd on Twitter here. You can also find Todd at http://www.appliedstrategy.info, 303-527-0417 or firstname.lastname@example.org