When companies fail to deliver on their promises, the most frequent explanation is that the CEO’s strategy was wrong. But the strategy by itself is not often the cause. Strategies most often fail because they aren’t executed well. Things that are supposed to happen don’t happen.
~ Larry Bossidy
Guessing what the pitcher is going to throw is eighty percent of being a successful hitter. The other twenty percent is just execution.
~ Hank Aaron
Execution, the discipline of getting things done, is the fourth FACE IT* leadership attribute to accelerate your career. I’ve seen many great strategy meetings at all levels of companies. The best meetings are the ones where there was great dialog and debate to come up with a sound strategic plan. However, as Mr. Aaron points out, to be successful with your strategy, you have to execute. You have to follow through on the plans you made otherwise the strategic work was ineffective.
You might wonder how this is different than being Accountable (the A in FACE IT). Accountability is really the frame of mind and personal commitment to take ownership for a task or problem. Execution is the ability to actually get things done. The basic discipline of execution is just you staying focused and knocking out the task. More advanced execution is your ability to manage a project and complete it on time and on budget.
I studied the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) governed by the Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org) and recommend it for deeper understanding of project management principles. In particular, I recommend study on the Agile Project Management method as it is in common use today with technology projects.
A key executive skill is strategy. I’ve seen good strategy with poor execution. I’ve seen poor strategy with good execution. Good strategy with good execution will give you consistent success. If you work hard you may get lucky and achieve great strategy and great execution. When that happens, you achieve extraordinary results.
Learn how to execute. Learn how to lead and manage projects. Projects are what integrate strategy into ongoing operations. This is a key skill for progressing into leadership opportunities.
* FACE IT: Focused, Accountable, Customer-Centric, Executes, Innovates, Teacher