I recommend great business books to my coaching and consulting clients all the time. I find that sometimes I forget about just how good some of these texts are, and how helpful they can be to a person when they are read at just the right time. Once in awhile, they come back later and tell me that a book changed their life, or their business…
One of the great business books written in the last 15 years is Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. This book was written in 2002 by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. For business leaders of all shapes and sizes, the great ideas in this book work as well today as they did when written around the turn of the century (sounds like a long time ago, doesn’t it?).
It would be easy to categorize this book as a Leadership and Management text, or as a Career Development text. While it covers both of those areas well, I consider this a great book about Strategy! This is the time during the business year to be thinking about strategy. Too many companies fail to contemplate next year until December 1st is upon them. Later, they engage in a mad scramble to figure out what needs to be done to make next year a successful year. I love this quote: “Execution has to be a part of the company’s strategy and its goals. Its the missing link between aspirations and results.”
Having read this book numerous times, I concluded that truly great companies think about strategy all the time. They build a deep culture that makes execution a core value, and something that every leader places near the top of the priority list. That is certainly one of the main points to retain from this masterpiece! Bossidy and Charan maintain that many companies don’t give execution enough strategic consideration. Thus, when strategy comes up short, they believe it’s often because execution of results wasn’t considered or prioritized as it needed to be. Great companies, they posit, make results, performance and teamwork the cornerstone of an outstanding culture. We all know how critical culture is to the future of any company, don’t we? Working with a company that makes delivering on promises a core value seems like a no-brainer to me. How cool is that? I love it!
Execution encourages us as leaders to make delivering against commitments the penultimate job of every leader. We can’t get too isolated in our ivory towers, and start acting like dispassionate audit consultants, or execution begins to fall apart. It’s only by getting the team engaged to buy-in to the larger company goals, that we achieve our highest potential as individuals and teams. To make execution happen, leaders need to get the team to collaborate, share ideas, engage in productive conflict, if necessary, and commit to results, and then make it happen, come what may.
I believe strongly that great companies get things done, and acknowledge those team members who drive the results. I also believe that in rewarding and celebrating great behavior, we institutionalize a culture of executing and achieving. That is best done by ensuring that dialogue and professional discussion of dialogue leads to the team rallying around the best thinking and the strongest ideas. As leaders, if we’re leading a team that cannot deliver results, we need to go back to the basics and start changing the infrastructure of our culture, to enable the foundation for success.
Make execution a part of your annual strategic planning exercise this year, and set your company on a clear course for smoother waters and greater achievement of performance and results!
Execution just saved one of my clients tens of thousands of dollars because last year we had his leadership team read it during our strategic planning meetings. He called me to tell me that despite his initial reluctance to ask his team to read the book, he is now overjoyed that he did. Would you like to save tens of thousands of dollars just by having your team read this text? Enjoy the journey!