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BUSINESS CAPSTONE

EXECUTION: THE DISCIPLINE OF GETTING THINGS DONE


LARRY BOSSIDY AND RAM CHARAN

Vision without execution is hallucination. THOMAS EDISON

11/13/2012

No company can deliver on its commitments or adapt well to change unless all leaders practice the discipline of execution at all levels. Execution has to be part of a companys strategy and its goals. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 19) As said, execution involves more than just middle management implementation; this must be driven from the top of the organization down to those that carry out the tactics of the strategy. Execution as a discipline of business must be a core element of the organizations culture. According to Bossidy and Charan, there are three building blocks of execution: the leaders seven essential behaviors, creating a framework for cultural change, and having the right people in the right place. The first of the building blocks of execution is the leaders seven essential behaviors. Know your people and your business get where the action is; engage the business; know the organization comprehensively (plants and people); let the people know you; Insist on realism uncover all of the ugly, unflattering mistakes; meet confrontations; be realistic with yourself; Set clear goals and priorities limit the number of priorities to three or four; make sure to be clear and realistic; be simple and direct with others; Follow through name people accountable for results; set up follow through actions; Reward the doers reward people that perform and achieve the results set by the goals and priorities; Expand peoples capabilities coach, or mentor, people to get things done; dont just give them orders; observe, then provide feedback; ask incisive questions to make people think, discover, and search; Know yourself be honest with yourself; know your personal strengths and weaknesses; being open requires emotional fortitude: o authenticity (outer person same as your inner person,) o self-awareness (know yourself, be comfortable with your strengths and not crippled by your shortcomings,) o self-mastery (keep ego in check, take responsibility for your behavior,) o humility (not allowing your pride to get in the way of achieving the best results.) (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, pp. 81-83) Creating a framework for cultural change is the next building block the authors examine. Culture can be described as the unwritten rules employees live by at work. Organizational culture is the sum of its shared values, beliefs and norms of behavior (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 89), and it defines what gets appreciated, respected and rewarded. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 92) In order to begin the change of its culture, the executive leadership must be very clear on their expected results, how to get those results and reward those that produce the results. Basically, talk is cheap and doing provides results. If they come up short, provide additional coaching, withdraw rewards, give them other jobs, or let them go. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 86) To back up the
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top-down principle, leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 105) Ineffective leaders have one of two leadership styles: micromanaging or completely hands-off. Either one of these methods can be detrimental to the strategy of the organization and the morale of the employees. An effective leader sets the task, end objective, but not the method of how it is accomplished. The leader ensures the proper resources are available for employees for the best results. To accomplish the next building block, having the right people in the right place, the leader should not delegate this authority to others. The leader must have the emotional fortitude to make the hard decisions about employees that are either in the wrong positions or wrong for the company. They must also identify and provide training opportunities for those that have leadership aptitude. Execution is inhibited by problems with accountability, failure to follow through, a perceived problem with strategy and a lack of clear priorities. But poor execution does not mean the strategy was bad. It could be the organization isnt capable of making them happen, or the leaders of the business misjudge the challenges their companies face in the business environment, or both. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 15) But to increase the potential of execution, leadership must institute and support a culture change. This may be difficult because some employees are resistant to change, veering from the status quo. People become accustomed to their environment and the culture of an organization. The leadership will set up the basis for a culture change, talk about it, have meeting about it, launch a campaign and endorse memorandums for this change in culture. But if this change is not followed up by leadership, it is a hollow rule. By using communication effectively a change in culture may be smoother. But communication is a two way street. The biggest farce is people believe that communication is occurring and effective. Most times people believe that effective communication is taking place, but while the other person is speaking, the listener is formulating their own response and not paying attention to what is actually being said. The speaker can pick up on this and may begin to shut down, due to feeling their ideas are not important. This prevents feedback and hinders any decision making. Organizational culture and strategy is impacted by hiring decisions through selection of the wrong person for the job. Just because an individual has all the right schooling, the right grades, the right volunteerism doesnt mean that person is the right fit for the company. If you have someone that has had to work hard their whole life, hasnt had things come easy to them, those could be the perfect fit, because they are accustomed to working, or doing, to accomplish the goal. If subordinates see
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someone gliding along, not working hard, but being rewarded for the lack of effort, morale will break down, and the culture will begin to support non-execution, distrust of superiors and a wandering eye for greener pastures, which in effect kills your strategy and bottom line. To find and fix the problems with poor execution, the executive must get out into the field, in the trenches so to speak; meet with the middle management and the employees. Get to know them, ask questions and actively listen to the answers; be open for questions and respond readily; establish the behaviors you will tolerate from your subordinates, and follow them. Communicate an inspiring vision and realistic strategies, make sure you have an engaged and committed workforce with the right skills, and focus on the customer to ensure success. (LEPSINGER, 2010) Organization, researching, thinking and planning are important in making an effective decision, but shouldnt hold up the leader from making a decision quickly and confidently. Once the three building blocks are in place leaders with the right behavior, a culture that rewards execution and consistent system for getting the right people in the right jobs, the foundation is in place for operating and managing each of the core processes effectively. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 137) The people process involves a leader knowing their employees, their strengths and weaknesses, balance teams with different types of talent, make sure they are reviewed candidly. Strategically, the leader must keep in mind the competition when forming the plan, whether the business can execute this plan, ensure the plan is clear and ensure it doesnt lose sight of the customers needs. Operationally, the plan is a link between the people and the strategy; what kind of budget is required to support the strategy, contingency plans, reviews of plan up to a point and what, if any, changes would be necessary to meet the leaders goals. The secret to effective leadership is being able to simultaneously devote sufficient time and attention to implementing the key action priorities that will ensure your longer-term strategic objectives will be achieved. Being able to effectively craft, communicate, then execute a winning strategy, is a core competence that can determine who will ultimately dominate an industry category. Balancing strategic planning and business execution is easier said than done, while still managing your day to day operations, selling your products and services, looking after your customers, handling problems and putting out fires. Execution is not just something that does or doesnt get done. Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that companies need to master in order to have competitive advantage. (BOSSIDY & CHARAN, 2002, p. 7)
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Works Cited
ALTFELD, J. (2011). SUMMARY OF THE BOOK EXECUTION: THE DISCIPLINE OF GETTING THINGS DONE. Retrieved OCTOBER 27, 2012, from ALTFELD INC. STRATEGIC PLANNING, MARKETING AND SALES CONSULTANTS: WWW.ALTFELDINC.COM/PDFS/EXECUTION.PDF BOSSIDY, L., & CHARAN, R. (2002). EXECUTION: THE DISCIPLINE OF GETTING THINGS DONE. NEW YORK: CROWN BUSINESS. HOW TO GO FROM BEING A GOOD EMPLOYEE TO BEING A GREAT ONE. (n.d.). Retrieved 11 01, 2012, from TSE CONSULTING: WWW.TSECONSULTING.COM/TSETOOLS/VIEW_TOOLS PORTER, M. E. (1996, NOVEMBER). WHAT IS STRATEGY? HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW , p. 16.