Tag Archives: strategy

Is This Our Era: A Flurry Of Fluff Masking An Absence Of Substance? – (Insight From Richard Rumelt, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy)

Are we living in the era of Fluff? — an era of Fluff in a time when Fluff simply won’t cut it?

Of all the ideas in this terrific book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt, (my selection for the October 7 First Friday Book Synopsis), this one seemed to especially grab me:

Fluff is superficial restatement of the obvious combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords.
A hallmark of true expertise and insight is making a complex subject understandable. A hallmark of mediocrity and bad strategy is unnecessary complexity — a flurry of fluff masking an absence of substance.

Fluff is the easy answer, the short answer, the simplistic answer (not simple: simple is a different matter.  Simple is good – simplistic is bad).

Fluff can come in a very small number of words, or in a lot of words.  Volume and high word count can still be the short, simplistic, “borrowed from clichés” answer.

And in this very fragile time, we need something deeper than fluff.  The book describes the demanding, serious work required to come up with good strategy.  Short cuts; borrowing from clichés; fluff, simply won’t cut it.  I hope you will join us on October 7.  This is a genuinely useful, challenging book that will help you escape from the realm of fluff.

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}.

The Clear Yet Tough Path to Success

What makes for business success?  What does a company do to become, and remain, successful?

This is the challenging question of our era.  And it is not as easy as it looks.  The very best business books seem to have great advice, but many of the companies they hold out as exemplars are having tough times.  In just the last few months, two such companies (highlighted in whopping business best sellers) have had significant failures:  Fannie Mae, and Circuit City (which announced bankruptcy just yesterday).  

One path taken by increasing numbers of business leaders is the path of seeking constant improvement.  From the book which I chose for the November First Friday Book Synopsis (Six Disciplines Execution Revolution:  Solving the One Business Problem that Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier by Gary Harpst), we learn that one way to stay on top is to keep current on the latest business thinking — to read books that will help you develop your strategy and focus on execution.  Here is a key quote from this useful book:  “A final argument that execution is business’ biggest challenge is the growth of the business improvement industry itself.  As business leaders, we’re voracious seekers of business improvement ideas in the form of conferences, books, blogs, and training.  We want our performance to be better, and we know it should be better.”

At the First Friday Book Synopsis, Karl Krayer and I do our best to choose book titles that will help with this challenge.  But our part is simple.  We provide people with the best ideas from the best business books.  Whether you get your ideas from our presentations of the books, or you actually read the books yourself, the next step is completely in your hands:  you have to implement what you learn.  If you do, then you have actually learned.  If you don’t, then you have not yet learned.  To learn is to then do — and when there is no doing, there has been no learning.  

But, as the author states, no one step is enough.  Here is another key quote:  “None of the components alone is sufficient.  Consulting by itself, coaching by itself, software by itself, books, frameworks, methodologies – none of them by themselves will produce a fraction of the potential.” 

Keep learning — and keep refining your strategy — and keep executing your strategy.!