Execution: Getting it Done!
by Rob Arnoth, B.A. (Economics)
Execution is the most critical element in realizing the goals that make us happy. It is difficult to follow through on our goals if we assume that simply having an idea will bring it to fruition. For example, many business strategy planning sessions are based on meaningless numerical extrapolation. The strategies evaporate as soon as the board room doors are opened. Why does it feel as though our desires are separated from actual results by the Grand Canyon? To succeed we need the right roadmap, a nurturing culture, and a strong launch followed by reassessments.
A roadmap transforms us from where we are to where we want to be. Daily activities are linked to weekly, monthly, and annual results by solid building blocks. Everyone must be committed to the plan and be willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of success. Identifying obstacles to success will help generate alternatives and provide stronger fortitude during tough times. Threats include not working with the right people, poor commitment, or insufficient resources. External factors such as changes in the economic and political climate can also be a hindrance.
Execution does not operate in a vacuum. People need time to get comfortable with an execution based culture. Hard hitting results-oriented language is a compliment indicating sincerity to help everyone do their best. Strategies should not be blindly accepted. Stimulate heated debate to expose vulnerabilities and challenge assumptions. This will surface more of the truth.
When launching a plan hollow strategies can be presented during a show and tell session by displaying slides and graphs without providing perspective on how results will be achieved. Most business plans end up as credenza-ware so do not consider a strategy successful during formulation. Ask harsh questions about implementation.
Compare results to targets and reward desired performance. Many businesses reward production without recognizing collaboration or ingenuity. Optimism must not shelter disconnects. Look for shortfalls and be weary of congratulating people for achieving what they could while blaming shortfalls on uncontrollable external factors. People may applaud themselves for loosing some weight without critically addressing why they didn’t loose what they wanted. If targets are not met, it is best to reassess and take action to get back on course.
When strategies are collectively challenged and debated, a focused approach develops with strong accountability. Execution is demanding, laborious, and sometimes distasteful. We should strive for more than just having the basics in place. A strong link between an idea and how to get it off the ground will help us achieve what we value.