Improving Business Execution

I recently read a compilation of books written by my colleague, John Spence. Spence is a voracious reader and I have yet to meet anyone that reads as much as John. The following are some key excerpts and my thoughts that are critical to effective business execution.

Execute the Right Business Plans

Success comes from executing the right plans, not from the business planning process itself. This is a main reason why the most successful business leaders have found it useful to hire a third-party to help hold them accountable. It is not unusual for the CEO to have the most discomfort during this process. After all, most of them are in this position as a result of their self-motivation, drive and confidence.

These same traits work against them as they typically fail to focus on anything long enough. As a result, their team members fail to achieve desired outcomes. They are too busy trying to address the many conflicting messages. Case in point, recently I did an organizational survey with the top 10 executives in preparation for their annual planning retreat. We found that the CEO commonly provided this team with 25 new initiatives every week, even when the last 25 were barely addressed.

Common Issues With Planning & Execution

The above situation is not uncommon and we typically find the following additional issues:

  • That the CEO was good at understanding what needed to be done, but failed to recognize the resources required to do it.
  • The CEO was failing to prioritize and was making everything appear important.
  • While the CEO may be a master at time management, his leadership approach was having a negative impact on a subordinate’s ability to manage their time well.
  • Too often responsibility and accountability are given without authority to accomplish the work.
  • There is not an appropriate dashboard of key metrics to isolate progress in the essential areas of the business.

How to Improve Business Execution

In order to improve business execution of strategy, we recommend the following:

  • Help your team members create a specific roadmap to success.
  • Remember that a poor strategy, well executed, provides poor results.
  • Align your incentives with strategic objectives.
  • Give leaders, clear, measurable, specific goals with target date.
  • Leaders need to get their hands dirty and be willing to be in the trenches with everyone else.
  • Ensure that there is not more than one person accountable to any initiative, process, and desired outcome.

Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group, Inc. based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through Activate Group, please contact Howard at 305.722.7213.