After spending the last four chapters on key areas of mostly subjective materials—people, leadership, process excellence, and strategic planning—I now want to focus on perhaps the single most important chapter in this book, the topic of which is execution. If you do all the above well and can’t execute, your business will be one with a lot of potential but one that doesn’t achieve any measure of success year after year.
I will endeavor to lay out some basic principles for the reader to use in helping the business execute effectively. However, I firmly believe that the biggest component, one that’s never really talked about in how to effectively execute, is leadership’s absolute willpower to drive execution through the organization. The leader makes sure to follow up and sees that the people are following through with the agreed-upon actions. The basic principles are as follows: initially, the team agrees to a set of goals to be accomplished during the year. Second, they define any number of action items needed to be accomplished to achieve those goals. Third, the team prioritizes these by setting timelines and dates for actual completion of each action item and goal. Fourth, a person or group of people are assigned responsibility for accomplishing these goals per the actions and timeline defined. Finally, an agreed-upon follow-up framework is established where the leader meets with the team to monitor progress. I had my meetings monthly. Depending on the urgency of the actions, they may need to occur weekly. If actions are falling behind schedule, it is up to the leader to make sure the individuals assigned to the tasks get back on schedule. If dynamics change in the market, it is important that the business be agile and able to respond quickly to shifting circumstances. Therefore, goals and actions can and will either change or be replaced by more urgent requirements according to market needs and opportunities. The leader must be effective at being able to quickly turn the organization to respond to an opportunity or threat through solid execution rigor.
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