Execution in Business
Posted on September 28, 2016 by Phil Elworth
As a business owner your greatest impact is in two key areas; 1) developing a great strategy for success and 2) execution on the strategy.
Which of these two do you excel in? If you are like most business owners you are good at creating a strategy but not so great at executing one. Why is execution so hard? A good question and one I hope to simplify for you in this article.
According to Chris McChesney, co-author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution there are four distinct disciplines that if followed will lead to success.
The first discipline is clarity around the goal. Can everyone in your organization state back to you what the primary goal of the organization is for this next year? If not how can you expect your employees to execute on this goal. Most organizations and individuals can only have a couple of goals in play at the same time. We just finished the summer Olympic Games for 2016. One event that is so interesting for me to watch is the rowing events. Here you have teams of rowers with a vocal leader pushing them on. They all have one goal in mind, to hit the finish line first, often with a secondary goal of hitting a particular time and if they did not all row together they would never win the gold. But even here it starts with everyone on the team trying together to execute the strategy of winning the race. The most important goals of the organization must be communicated to everyone over and over and over, yes over communicated to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Once you understand your goal line then you can put a metric in place to track this goal.
The second discipline, once you have goal clarity is to determine how you will achieve the goal. What steps will you take today to reach the goal? The best way to determine this is to use metrics called leading indicators. By tracking leading indicators you can monitor your progress toward the goal. What is a leading indicator? A leading indicator is a metric that is first predictive of success and second is influenceable by you. For example, if you know it takes on average 20 phone calls to get a meeting and it takes 5 meetings to make a sale, then the number of phone calls made is a leading indicator. It is predictive of success, because you have tracked it, and it is influenceable by you, you either make the calls or you don’t.
After determining your leading indicators you need to create a scoreboard. It is a well-known fact that when you keep score you are more apt to stay in the game. Have you ever gone out to play tennis and instead of playing a game you just decided to volley for a while? How long did this keep your attention? For me playing this way I became bored very quickly, however when we started keeping score my interest, attention and capability increased almost immediately. This is also true with tracking metrics for success. You need to know at any point in time how well you are doing. This gives you both the motivation as well as the drive to keep moving toward your goal. A scoreboard is critical not just for your own goals but for departments and even companies as a whole.
The fourth component of success in execution comes from creating a cadence of accountability. According to McChesney there are three components to this cadence. First you need to report on your commitments. Did you do what you said you were going to do? This is especially important in a company where the whirlwind of normal business activity will take every minute of every day. If you are not held accountable for moving your part of the goal process forward it will never get done. The second part is to review the scoreboard and determine what is working and what is not. At the break of every sports event the coaches look at the scoreboard and determine what needs to change in order to get the game back on track, we need to constantly do the same thing. We do this by clearing the path and making new commitments. What issues or problems are blocking our way to success? Look for ways to eliminate these road blocks then plan what needs to be accomplished over the next week. To be most effective accountability should be occurring on a weekly basis.
If you can follow these four steps you will be well on the way to achieving your goals. As part of my practice I work with companies to help them determine their goals and then move down the road to success.
See how I can help create a strategy for success by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
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