How To Build A Culture Of Execution

Culture is the means to a strategic end – wrong culture, failed goals.

What organizational culture expresses the strategic imperative to grow beyond “realistic” levels; to outperform others by orders of magnitude?

Consistently beating your rivals and exceeding market growth expectations requires a culture of execution; a brilliant plan that can’t be flawlessly executed won’t get you there.

Most organizations don’t execute well; these actions will help establish execution as the fundamental fabric of an organization.

1. Loosen up on strategy development. Get the strategy “just about  right” and tighten up on strategy implementation.

It is impossible to execute if all of the time available is spent trying to perfect the plan. Every hour spent on fine tuning strategic direction reduces the ability to get anything done.

Spend the extra time normally spent planning on HOW the plan will be implemented – WHAT has to be done, by WHOM and WHEN.

2. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” in terms of the projects and tactics undertaken. Focus on the critical few things that will achieve 80% of the strategic goal and do them well.

3. Stay focused on the chosen direction. Avoid getting sucked in to “yummy incoming”: over-the-transom demands of peoples’ time that are off strategy and dilute the effectiveness to execute.

4. Cut the CRAP; the projects and activities that may have been important in the past but which are no longer relevant given the new strategic direction.

Effective execution is stultified if people are “holding on” to the past. Dump the CRAP to make room for “the new”.

5. Ship imperfection fast. Avoid the “tinkering mentality” that wants to have things exactly right before launching them. DO IT! and adjust and refine on the run.

6. Get every function – marketing, sales service, operations etc. – in the organization to determine the critical three things THEY must do to achieve the top 3 organizational priorities.

Make this task non-negotiable. If every department in the organization doesn’t have direct line of sight to the strategy, people will tend to march to their own drummer and effective execution doesn’t happen.

7. Build execution deliverables into every employee’s annual performance plan. If execution is not a personal matter to every individual, it won’t get done.

8. Establish a voice for execution – The “Strategy Hawk” – to ride herd on execution. To monitor progress and kick butt when things are not proceeding as planned.

Every organization seeks a sustainable competitive advantage; an execution culture will deliver it.

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