Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done


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EXECUTION is a systematic process of rigorously discussing hows & whats, questioning, tenaciously following-through and ensuring accountability.

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  • LB: COO of GE's Credit Card Corporation, then President of GE's Services and Materials Sector, and the Vice Chairman of GE. He was recruited and became the CEO of AlliedSignal Corporation - now Honeywell. The company had serious problems when he took over. His success in turning the company around is legendary. By 1999, operating margins had tripled and its return on equity rose from 10% to 28%. RC: Ram Charan completed his Engineering degree from India and then moved to Australia for work. Then like many of us he felt a need for going for Mgmt education and joined Harvard Business School where he not only completed his MBA but also Ph D in Mgmt and then worked as a Professor too. Today, he is a highly sought after business advisor, author of more than a dozen best selling books and a speaker. He conducts Advanced Mgmt Programs and fee of one month’s program is somewhere around 55,000 USD. The Book is based on their observation that the discipline of getting things done was what differentiated companies that succeeded from those that muddled through or failed. Richard T Clark who changed Merck & Co. since becoming chairman & CEO in 2005. Louis Gerstner who transformed IBM Corporation and prepared Sam Palmisano
  • Gap between the expectations of the board and what the CEOs deliver as outcome. People, Strategy & Operations were, are and will remain the basic building blocks of Business Success. But as the political, economic, legal & technological environment changes; as the business environment changes the methods in which these processes are carried out also change. People: An environment of fast growth can cover multitude of sins but an era of slow growth will magnify every short coming of every person in the business; especially the leaders. Leaders of today must build pipeline of leaders of tomorrow. Strategy: Its not limited to the so called mega issues and its not limited to the so called board rooms. It is equally important for smaller issues and the corridors as well. Operations: Clear goals, accountability and good methods of measuring performance.
  • Why do we need execution?
  • Companies can have: Smart CEOs. Talented people. Inspiring visions. Best consultants. But it is the discipline of getting things done or EXECUTION which makes real difference when it comes to the outcome. Execution is the reason Dell surpassed Compaq in market value and sales and in almost all other areas inspite of the fact that Compaq was much bigger in size and had more talented guys in the bus. Dell turns inventory 80 to 90 times while its rivals do it just 10 to 12 times. Its velocity (ratio of sales dollars to net assets deployed in the business)is much better than its rivals. Higher velocity improves Productivity & reduces working capital. In such cases it is not only the CEOs who suffer but also the employees, alliance partners, shareholders and even the customers. If you do not know how to execute with seamless integration, the whole of your effort as a leader will always be less than the sum of its parts.
  • Reasonably good strategy executed well can bring wonderful results but poor execution of even a wonderful strategy won’t do any good.
  • Execution is a discipline and integral to strategy Execution is the major job of a business leader. Execution must be a core element of an organization’s culture,
  • I read this book during my MBA at IIM Lucknow. Andy Grove who was then CEO of Intel Corporation emphasized a lot on execution.
  • A successful CFO with Louis Gerstner at IBM A successful COO at Xerox from 1997 to 1999 A disaster CEO at Xerox from April 1999 to May 2000 Skill Set: Master in Strategy & Operations. Not so good in people processes. Did not put premium on getting right people on right place, kept people in information vacuum and hence gave way to lot of grapevine, no focus on recruiting, selecting and grooming people for better future. Miserable in linking the three core processes with each other. Result – Disaster for the company and Xerox had to sell few of its business for cash to run its other successful businesses.
  • Why do we need execution?
  • Behaviors are beliefs turned into action. These are fundamental things we must do to execute well. 1. Knowing your people is just as important as knowing your business in these turbulent times. Knowing your people requires rigorous evaluation against clear goals and candid & thorough feedback. But knowing your people is not enough, they need to know you. For this two way understanding you need to show up. Show up in office, in meetings, in business reviews, in felicitations and parties which are an integral part of the culture of the organization. And, just showing up is not enough. You need to ask intelligent questions. Good managers and leaders like to get quizzed. Asking intelligent questions adds value to both the parties. This asking should not take interrogation mode rather it must be in Socratic dialogue form. 2. Insist on realism: Realism is the heart of execution but still people try to avoid it as much as possible. Because it makes life uncomfortable. People don’t want to open pandora’s box. They want to hide their mistakes or want to buy time to figure out solution rather than accepting that they do not have one at the moment. 3. Leaders who execute focus on a very few clear priorities that everyone can grasp. In matrix organizations people at various levels have to make multiple trade offs and they make better trade off if they have clear goals and defined priorities. 4. Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution. It ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do, according to the agreed timetable. Never finish a meeting without clarifying what the follow-through will be, who will do it, when and how they will do it, what resources they will use, and how and when the next review will take place and with whom. Never launch an initiative unless you're personally committed to it, and prepared to see it through until it's embedded in the DNA of an organization. 5. Reward the doers: Companies that don’t execute – chances are that they do not measure, do not reward and do not promote the people who know how to get things done. 6. Expand people’s capabilities through coaching: Coaching is single most important part of expanding others’ capabilities. Fish………………….The skill of the coach is the art of questioning. Asking good questions forces people to think, to discover and to search. 80% of the learning takes place outside the classroom. Hence every leader needs to be a teacher. Classroom learning should be about giving them the tools they need. 7. Know yourself: Emotional fortitude comes from self discovery and self mastery. It is the foundation of people skills. core qualities that make up emotional fortitude: * - authenticity * - self-awareness * - self-mastery * - humility Getting things done depends ultimately on performing a specific set of behaviors. Without emotional fortitude it is tough to develop these behaviors. If you sit down with your boss, and your boss hasn't said something about your weaknesses, go back! Otherwise you're not going to learn anything. Realism means living with a degree on uncertainty. Running your business by looking into the rearview mirror is the recipe of failure. Realism also means being out there observing the consumer behavior in the market place instead of simply receiving reports in the closed room. While understanding reality is crucial, equally important is communicating it to the people. Keeping them in vacuum will create lot of grapevine and that spreads very fast in this era of twitter & facebook. Follow through is a constant and sequential part of execution. Follow through reqires knowledge & courage. Knowledge without courage is not effective. Doer is a person who gets things done and getting things done means meeting the goals. Leaders must find ways to educate, train & develop people. Doing this is investing in the future of the company & the people. Find out people with ECHIP. This is what Lois Gerstner did when is picked up Sam Palmisano and prepared him for taking the role of Chairman & CEO of this great corporation.
  • First you tell people clearly what results are you looking for. Then you discuss how to get those results, as a key element of the coaching process. Then you reward people for producing the results. If they fall short, you provide additional coaching, withdraw the rewards, give them other jobs or let them go. When you do this, you create a culture of getting things done. You got to differentiate the performers with non performers. Differentiation is the mother’s milk for building a performance culture.
  • What’s the leader’s role? Micromanage the details? Set Strategy/Direction? Get the best players on the team (Right People in the Right Place) ? Mentor? Coach? Work along side? Monitor Operations, People, and Strategy? Create the culture? The quality of your people is the best competitive differentiator. The results probably won’t show up quickly but over time, choosing the right people is what creates sustainable competitive advantage. Dell ultimately out-competed Compaq, a far bigger company because Michael Dell took great pains to have the right people in the right jobs – people who understood his business model superbly. If you look at any business (small/big) that’s successful consistently, you will find that its leaders focus intensely and relentlessly on people Selection, Evaluation & Development. Whether you are the head of a multi-billion dollar company or a manager of small profit center, you can not delegate the process for selecting & developing leaders. It’s a job you have to love doing. 30 to 40 % of your time on people Selection, Evaluation & Development. 85% Executives in GE are promoted from within, because Jack Welch and now his successor Jeff Immelt made leadership development a top priority and demanded that all other executives also do the same. Leaders need to commit as much as 40% of their time and emotional energy in one form or another to select, appraise & develop people.
  • Leaders may not know enough about the people they are appointing. 3 or 4 non-negotiable criteria – things the person must be able to do in order to succeed. The leader does not have the emotional fortitude to confront and is not decisive. Ramit may be comfortable with me because I think like him and do not challenge him. This very often happens in politics at all the levels. And there is a name for this – rewarding the loyalty. If you spend the same amount of time and energy developing people as you do on budgeting, strategic planning and financial monitoring, the pay off will come in sustainable competitive advantage.
  • People regard a good leader as one with a vision, strategy and the ability to inspire others. They assume that if the leader can get the vision and strategy right and get his message across, organization’s people will follow. So board of directors, CEO and other executives are too often seduced by the educational & intellectual qualities of the candidate they interview. Is she conceptual & visionary? Is she articulate, change agent and a good communicator? That’s all they look for in a candidate. And they do not ask the most important question: How good she is in getting things done? A person who is little less conceptual but absolutely determined to succeed will usually find the right people and get them together to achieve objectives? You can easily spot the doers by observing their working habits. They are the ones who energize people, are decisive on tough issues, get things done through other people and follow through as second nature. If you can’t get things done through others, ultimately you are going to sink or burn out. Never launch an initiative unless you are personally committed to it and prepared to see it through until it’s embedded in DNA of the organization. We may do it with or without everybody’s support, but we are going to do it. Then people get the message quickly that this is not an experiment. How to get the right people in the right jobs? 1.The first things I look for are energy & enthusiasm for execution. Does the candidate get excited by doing things? 2. How does she sets her priorities? 3. What qualities is he known for? 4. What is his work ethic or energy level?
  • She is to behave with highest integrity. This is the issue where there are no second chances – breach the rule and you are gone. She must know that the customer comes first. You got to understand three processes – people, strategy & operations. You have got to manage these three processes.
  • Why do we need execution?
  • Most efforts at cultural change fail because they are not linked to improving the business' outcomes. CREATE A CULTURE OF GETTING THINGS DONE: * - Tell people clearly what results you're looking for. * - Discuss how to get those results. * - Reward people for producing the results. * - If they come up short, provide additional coaching, withdraw rewards, give them other jobs, or let them go.
  • Only the leader can set the tone of the dialogue in the organization. Dialogue is the core of the culture and basic unit of the work. How people talk to each other absolutely determines how well the organization will function? A robust people process does 3 things:  Evaluates individuals accurately and in depth. Provides a framework for identifying and developing the leadership talent - at all levels and all kinds - the organization will need to execute its strategies down the road. Fills the leadership pipeline that's the basis of a strong succession plan.
  • The objective of a strategy is to win customers, develop a competitive advantage, and make money for shareholders. A strategy defines the direction of the business. It outlines the "hows" of executing the strategy. It is reliable and leads to the desired business results. A strategy has to be owned by those who execute it. Healthy dialogue is key to an effective execution culture.
  • Execution is a systematic process of rigorously discussing hows and whats, questioning, tenaciously following-through and ensuring accountability. Linking rewards to outcomes. Includes mechanisms for changing assumptions as the environment changes and upgrading the company's capabilities to meet the challenges of an ambitious strategy. Unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they are pointless. Execution is a systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it. Most companies don't face reality very well. Which people will do the job, and how will they be judged and held accountable? What human, technical, production, and financial resources are needed to execute the strategy? Strategy takes account of people and operational realities. People are chosen and promoted in light of strategic and operational plans. Operations are linked to strategic goals and human capacities. If a strategy does not understand HOWS? It’s a candidate for failure. A strong strategic plan must answer the following questions: What is the assessment of external environment? How well do we understand the existing customers and environments? What is the best way to grow the business profitably and what are the obstacles to grow? Who is the competition? Can the business execute the strategy? Are the short term & long term balanced? What are the important milestones for executing the plan? What are the critical issues facing the business? How will the business make money on a sustainable basis? An astonishing number of strategies fail because leaders don’t make a realistic assessment of whether the organization can execute the plan. You measure your organizational capability by asking right questions. A strategic plan contains ideas that are specific and clear. It is not a numbers exercise. A good strategic plan has to be translatable into the operating plan.
  • Strategy Process defines where a business wants to go. People Process defines who will get it there. Operations Process defines the path for these people i.e. it breaks the long term output into short term targets. These short term programs or targets can be Product Launches Marketing Plan Sales Plans that take advantage of market opportunities A manufacturing plan that stipulates production outputs and A Productivity Plan that improves efficiency. Some of the most important operational activities while embarking upon a journey of execution are: Budgeting Principle of simultaneity The importance of synchronization Sound Assumptions: The key to setting realistic goals Building the operating plan The art of making trade-offs Outcomes of the operating process: Identifying targets that clearly & specifically reflect, not only what a business wants to achieve but what it is likely to achieve Yields a lot of learning Follow through & contingencies Quarterly reviews
  • Today’s business leader is someone who has the qualities of a great Manager & Leader both.
  • Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done

    1. 1. The Book & The Authors By Mukesh Kulothia Senior Consultant GBS, IBM India Pvt Ltd
    2. 2. What is in it? <ul><li>Why Execution Is Needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Gap Nobody Knows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Execution Difference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Building Blocks of Execution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 : The Leader’s Seven Essential Behaviors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 : Creating Framework For Cultural Change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 : The Job No Leader Should Delegate – Right People at Right Place </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Three Core Processes Of Execution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The People Process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Strategy Process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operations Process </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>A systematic process of rigorously discussing hows & whats , questioning, tenaciously following-through and ensuring accountability. </li></ul>Execution ?
    5. 5. The Gap Nobody Knows <ul><li>20 % of the CEOs from fortune 500 companies get fired; as they are not able to meet the expectations of the board. </li></ul>
    6. 6. The Gap Nobody Knows <ul><li>70 % of strategic failures are due to poor execution of leadership. - Ram Charan </li></ul>
    7. 7. The Execution Difference <ul><li>His real expertise is making sure we execute well. </li></ul><ul><li> - Gerstner for Palmisano in IBM’s Annual Report-2000 </li></ul>
    8. 8. The Execution Difference <ul><li>Leaders will have to execute more quickly toady. As the pressure comes faster. </li></ul>
    9. 9. The Execution Difference <ul><li>failure of Richard C Thoman @ Xerox </li></ul>A Successful CFO at IBM with Louis Gerstner A Successful COO at Xerox from 1997 to 1999 A disaster CEO at Xerox Apr 1999 to May 2000 Master of Strategy | Champion of Operations | Not so good in People Processes & lacked the discipline of execution
    11. 11. 1: Leader’s Seven Essential Behaviors <ul><li>Know the people & business </li></ul><ul><li>Insist on realism </li></ul><ul><li>Set clear goals & priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Follow through </li></ul><ul><li>Reward the doers </li></ul><ul><li>Expand people's capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Know yourself </li></ul>
    12. 12. 2: Creating the Framework for Cultural Change <ul><li>The hardware of a computer is useless without the right software. </li></ul><ul><li>In an organization </li></ul>
    13. 13. 3: Job No Leader Should Delegate – Right People in Right Place Success in executing a cultural change depends first & foremost on having the right people.
    14. 14. Why the right people are not in the right place?
    15. 15. What kind of people are you looking for?
    16. 16. Induction of a Manager
    18. 18. Three Core Processes of Execution = Business Success Execution Strategy Operations People 1 3 2 Execution Strategy Operations People 1 3 2
    19. 19. People Process: Making the link with Strategy & Operations <ul><li>Get the right people to execute the strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Link People to Strategy & Operations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Translate strategies into near, medium and long-term milestones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Develop the leadership pipeline through: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuous improvement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Succession depth analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Retention risk analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be decisive in dealing with non-performers </li></ul><ul><li>Transform HR roles and link to business rules </li></ul>Nothing is more important to an organization’s competitive advantage
    20. 20. Leadership Assessment Summary
    21. 21. Continuous Improvement Summary – (a)
    22. 22. Continuous Improvement Summary – (b)
    23. 23. Strategy Process : Making the link with People & Operations
    24. 24. Strategy Questions <ul><li>What do we want to accomplish? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we want go about accomplishing it? </li></ul>
    25. 25. Operations Process: Making the link with Strategy & People <ul><li>Makes the link between the strategy and the people. </li></ul><ul><li>Outlines short and long-term targets: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sales plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manufacturing plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product launch plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Productivity plans to improve efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The assumptions behind the operating plans are debated and everyone is held accountable for delivering. </li></ul><ul><li>Outcomes of a good Operations process: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly identified milestones & targets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow through & contingencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quarterly reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lot of learning </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. If We Remember Some Gyan from B-School Days <ul><li>Managers </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on things </li></ul><ul><li>Do things right </li></ul><ul><li>Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Organize </li></ul><ul><li>Direct </li></ul><ul><li>Control </li></ul><ul><li>Follow rules </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on people </li></ul><ul><li>Do right things </li></ul><ul><li>Inspire </li></ul><ul><li>Influence </li></ul><ul><li>Motivate </li></ul><ul><li>Build </li></ul><ul><li>Shape entities </li></ul>
    27. 27. Let us summarize <ul><li>Leadership without the discipline of execution is incomplete & ineffective . </li></ul><ul><li>If you do not know how to execute with seamless integration, the whole of your effort as a leader will always be less than the sum of its parts. </li></ul>
    28. 28. Thanks! Mukesh Kulothia Read more on my blog: www.mukeshkulothia.blogspot.com