Execution seems to be a persistent problem that plagues many leaders. My constant frustration with this led me to re-read Gary Harpst, Six Disciplines of Execution this month. Harpst provides some helpful charts and a detailed strategic process for execution that’s worth the price of the book alone.
Here are a few of my highlights from the book (sorry, doesn’t include the cool charts!)
- Leaders who build organizations with the ability to balance strong strategy with strong execution over long periods of time achieve enduring excellence.
- Walmart is not great at execution because they are big, they’re big because they’re great at executing their strategy.
- Concentrate on solving the problem that makes all other problems soluble.
- It’s better to have a grade B strategy and grade A execution than the other way around.
- We usually know what to do. It’s just that we don’t always do it.
- “Vision without execution is a hallucination” Thomas Edison
- There are three major barriers to execution: insufficient expertise, prohibitive economics and simple human nature.
- Creeping misalignment occurs everyday, often in very small ways, as the organization changes.
- “Changing people’s behavior: It’s the most important challenge for businesses trying to compete in a turbulent world. The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.” John Kotter
- When people don’t understand each other, nothing gets accomplished. But when communication is clear, there’s little that can’t be achieved.
- We discovered that the foundation of a complete program balancing strategy and execution is having a well defined, repeatable methodology.
- The purpose of methodology is to accelerate the learning of proven best practices for building any business.
- Repeatability is critical to learning.
- The earlier you catch an error, the less costly it is to fix it.
- “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities” Stephen Covey
- An organization that’s not growing is much easier to manage than one that is growing.