Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
By: Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

Execution is the main reason companies fall short of their promises, and the gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organizations to deliver it.

Strategies fail most often because they aren’t executed well.

Leaders play a central role to execution and must be deeply engaged in it. 

The heart of execution are the three core processes: people, strategy, and operations. 

The People Process:

The people process is the most critical of the three. 

A robust people process does three things:

  1. It evaluates individuals accurately and in depth. 
  2. It provides a framework for identifying and developing the leadership talent—at all levels and of all kinds.
  3. And it fills the leadership pipeline that’s the basis of a strong succession plan.

The Strategy Process:

A good strategic planning process requires the utmost attention to the how’s of executing the strategy.

The substance and detail of a robust strategy must come from the minds of the people who are closest to the action and who understand their markets, their resources, and their strengths and weaknesses.

The Operations Process:

The Operations Process is comprised of two components: The strategy process and the people process.

The strategy process defines where a business wants to go, and the people process defines who’s going to get it there.

The operating plan provides a path for those people. It breaks long-term output into short-term targets. An operating plan contains the programs your business is going to complete within one year to reach the desired levels of such objects as earnings, sales margins and cash flow.

A leader confronts people responsible for poor performance, searches for problems and solves them, and asks probing questions to coach others along.

Establish systematic processes for rigorously discussing the how’s and what’s, allowing for active questioning, enabling tenacious following-through, and ensuring accountability.

Ask questions that bring out reality and give people the help they need to correct problems.

Emotional fortitude is critical.  You have to be open to information or hearing things you don’t like or are contrary to what you believe.

The 7 essential behaviors that form the building blocks of execution:

  1. Know your people and your business
  2. Insist on realism
  3. Set clear goals and priorities
  4. Follow through
  5. Reward the doers
  6. Expand people’s capabilities
  7. Know yourself

Create a culture of getting things done:

  • Tell people clearly what results you’re looking for
  • Discuss how to get those results
  • Reward people for producing the results
  • If they come up short, provide additional coaching, withdraw rewards, give them other jobs, or let them go

You need robust dialog to bring reality to the surface through openness, and candor. 

Harmony can be the enemy of truth where real opinions do not come out that are needed to make the best decisions.

Leaders get the behavior and culture they exhibit and tolerate.  You change the culture of a company by changing the behaviors of its leaders.

Make sure the people you get are doers and not talkers.  Ask and find out how they get things done.  Go with the person that will succeed over hell or high water over IQ every time.  You can spot doers as they energize people, are decisive on tough issues, get things done through others, and follow through as second nature.

End conversations by summarizing the actions to be taken.

To be effective, a strategy has to be constructed and owned by those who will execute it, namely the managers.  They know the business environment and capabilities because they live with them, and are in the best position to introduce ideas.

Milestones bring reality to a strategic plan. If the business doesn’t meet milestones as it executes plan, leaders need to reconsider whether they have the right strategy.

The more people you have involved in the plan, the more people are aware of the expectations, and the more you achieve.

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