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Posted: October 24, 2012

Witness to an execution

As in, getting things done correctly

Todd Ordal

Many management gurus will say, “It’s all about the execution.” They’re wrong. If you execute the wrong strategy brilliantly, you just fail faster. It’s about brilliantly executing the right strategy.

Sun Tzu said, “Tactics before strategy is the noise before defeat.” He also said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.” I’m not sure I’d quibble with him if he and his sword were in front of me, but I believe you cannot achieve victory without tactics. Strategy without tactics is merely a dream.

If we replace the word “tactics” with the word “execution” in the above assertions, the meaning holds. You have to have a successful strategy, but you must also execute well.

My best clients have a model for execution; they don’t leave it to chance.  In the diagram below, I depict execution with six critical components. Don’t like six? Add a seventh. Like five better? Combine two components. My point is that if you have a model for execution with the critical components identified, you can then discuss it, pinpoint how you’ll measure success, identify how you’ll train and reward, and determine what’s broken when you don’t execute well.

In a recent gathering I hosted, executives identified their strongest area as operational planning/budgeting and their weakest area as accountability. I’ll write more about that in a future column.

Using this simple model, what are your areas of strength and what are your areas of weakness? If you can indentify them, you can build systematic ways to address them.

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 todd@appliedstrategy.info

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