Once you Decide and Plan — It’s All About Execution

Yes, plans can be tough to make.  Planning done right is hard work, and a failure to plan leads to ongoing failure down the road.  But most business failure has more to do with a failure to execute than it does with a failure to plan.

This message was stated clearly in the Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan book:  Execution:  The Discipline of Getting Things Done.  They wrote:  “Many people regard execution as detail work that’s beneath the dignity of a business leader.  That’s wrong. To the contrary, it’s a leader’s most important work…  Putting an execution environment in place is hard, but losing it is easy…  When a company executes, its people are not victims…  When a company executes well, its people are not brought to their knees by changes in the business environment.”  Here’s their definition of execution:  Execution is a systematic process of rigorously discussing hows and whats, questioning, tenaciously following through, and ensuring accountability.

A few other books have picked up and built upon the execution theme.  Notably, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution:  Solving the One Business Problem that Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier by Gary Harpst.  In this book, Harpst quotes from business guru Michael Porter:  “It’s better to have grade-B strategy and grade-A execution than the other way around.” I like Harpst’s simple reminder:  STRATEGY:  DECIDING WHAT TO DO — EXECUTION:  GETTING IT DONE. “Of the two, execution is far more difficult to achieve.”

Another volume to consider is the one by Amir Hartman,  Ruthless Execution:  What Business Leaders Do When Their Companies Hit The Wall.  He finds execution especially valuable when a company hits a tough spot:  “Ruthless execution is the method and strategies that business leaders employ to break through performance walls.”

I thought of these books in church this morning.  We had a guest preacher, the regional Bishop for the Methodist Church, Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe.  He asked a simple question:  “What is unfinished?  What unfinished business do you need to finish?”  The text was from 2 Corinthians 8:11 —  “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it.”  The subject  at hand dealt with helping those in need.  But the underlying principle was unmistakable:  finish what you start.  Finish what you plan.  Plan — then execute your plan.

So, yes, I confess that my mind drifted to these business volumes in the middle of church.  Why?  Because the truth is inescapable — for business, and for my own life.  Starting is relatively easy.  Finishing strong, finishing well… executing.  That’s where success is truly won.

{To purchase my synopses of Execution and Six Disciplines Execution Revolution, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site}.

2 thoughts on “Once you Decide and Plan — It’s All About Execution

  1. Robin

    I have to add my own books.

    Bricks to Bridges – Make Your Strategy Come Alive came out 6 yrs ago and went on to become an international bestseller.

    John Wiley and Sons have just published my new book. Beyond Strategy – The Leader’s Role in Successful Implementation

    The staggering failure of leaders to deliver on the strategy promises has led implementation to becoming an integral part of strategy discussions, in the last few years. Something needs to change and it starts with the leaders.

    Implementation of strategy can‘t simply be delegated. In the book he provides the model, structure, and specific actions leaders must take to go beyond strategy and deliver on their promises. The book is based on the latest thinking and divided into the areas of the Implementation Compass™, a framework for implementing strategy that identifies the eight global best practices of implementation. Each chapter ends with the actions leaders must take. It is succinct, action orientated, and packed with useful tips and case studies.

    International specialist in strategy implementation

  2. Albert van Niekerk

    I found your blog because of a nifty automatic link which WordPress provided to a post which I wrote this morning: Mental Traps Into Which Leaders Fall (http://growingclients.wordpress.com). I based my post on a remarkable article by Robert J Schaffer with the title Four Mistakes that Leaders Make. Visit http://www.rhsa.com/

    Why do leaders experience difficulties to execute their strategic plans?

    Also take note of the publications of John P. Kotter of Harvard University. He is regarded as the foremost expert on change management: Leading Change, The Heart of Change (co-authored with Dan S. Cohen)and A Sense of Urgency.



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