Imagine that you want to implement a really great idea that nobody wants to believe. Plus this is your only chance to prove yourself. What do you do?
How do you launch it into the world of skeptics and pragmatists in your organization?
To successfully accomplish your feat, you will need to master just three consecutive steps:
1. Commit to deliver
2. Refine Your Strategy
3. Own Your Execution Process
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” Winston Churchill
Make it Happen for Yourself First
First of all, you will need to prepare yourself to be resilient. No one is going to love you for your ideas. Nobody will sing your praises. No one even has time for that stuff. As Igor Shoifot, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of dozens of startups says, “to become successful, you need to find a balance between ignoring skeptics and listening to experts.“
So scribble down these words right in your heart – I will not give in. I will never give up. I will make it happen. In other words, you need to make yourself ready first. Fully committed to move mountains. Nothing is going to stop you. The ultimate truth is, and you know it well, if you are not convinced, no one will even listen to you.
The next thing you do is…go to Staples. Why in the world, you say? To buy your flip chart. You are going to do some doodling and scheming. Because you will need to distill your best strategy to the core before you can move those mountains of challenges. How do you make your idea happen?
Take a good look at your chart, and give yourself 15-20 minutes to do nothing but think. Yes, we need to apply this beautiful skill, which makes us Homo Sapiens. After this thinking process, pour all that you have in a perfect stream of conscience on that board. Spend some time making connections between your ideas, thinking about your product’s unique selling proposition, competitors, and “blue oceans.” Have the materials and research about your focused market available.
In my experience, the best strategy comes into place when you follow your strategic intuition. Professor William Duggan, the author of the bestselling book Strategic Intuition, defines strategic intuition as a wide combination of factors, including deep knowledge of the subject matter, understanding of the historical context, and the ability to place disparate facts together and assemble them into a whole. Strategic intuition solves a mystery through masterfully connecting unrelated pieces of information into one single answer. You may refer to my earlier article on mastering your strategy and connecting the dots to practice your strategy finding skills.
Of course, there have been numerous debates on why someone needs to spend so much time on a strategy. True, you may never have a perfect plan, but having no plans won’t buy you happiness. Can you afford to have a mediocre strategy and perfect execution?
Not according to Ken Favaro, a bestselling author and Senior Partner at Strategy &, who states in his article, “Yes, having a good strategy alone isn’t enough to win, but your ability to execute well depends on how good your strategy is and how well it’s understood by everyone who makes major decisions for your business.”
Here Comes the Action
“Seventy percent of strategic failures are due to poor execution… it’s rarely for lack of smarts or vision.”
Ram Charan, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Execution is when you roll up your sleeves and clench your teeth. It’s when you shout “Action!” and go ahead to make history. Like Bruce Lee ready to pounce, David squinting his eyes to shoot Goliath. And yet your challenge is not the big guy in armor, your challenges are your time and uncertainty.
Just how exactly can you make your strategy shine through perfect execution?
As you know, there are plenty of guides to help with this process, however the book which stood out for me recently was Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling’s The 4 Disciplines of Execution.
The authors’ advice helped business leaders like Marriott and The Ritz Carlton, among dozens and dozens of others to reach some incredible results through increased importance of execution throughout the organization.
Let’s look at these four disciplines more closely.
Focus on the Wildly Important – Focus on the one big target, which the authors call WIG, a wildly important goal, and make sure that you dedicate all your energy to achieving this goal.
Act on the Lead Measures – Regardless of your strategic course, McChesney, Covey and Huling identified just two kinds of measures: lag and lead. While lags are “the tracking measurements of the WIG” and they are extremely important for success, your lead measures are “the measures of the most high-impact things your team must do to reach the goal.”
Keep a Compelling Scoreboard – When I recently visited our Acura dealership in Alexandria, VA, I was impressed with large transparent boards on which sales teams were tracking the paths of their prospects through the robust sales funnel. The teams were highly engaged and excited to track their results on the score board. Help your employees get excited by keeping the score. McChesney, Covey and Huling advise that an internal friendly competition is better than dozens of bland staff meetings.
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability – Accountability is the super key here. How many times have you witnessed your excellent ideas fading away just because there were no team members accountable to them? The authors argue that each member of your team ‘owns’ their part of the WIG, or in the case that you are working alone, it you who are accountable to make it happen. In this case, at every team or staff meeting you have, you will know exactly where your process is, thus making sure that you are on target.
As McChesney, Covey and Huling believe, “executing on strategies that require a change in human behavior is a leader’s greatest challenge.” With the 4 disciplines, your execution becomes much more focused and successful. Whether you try this system, follow the infamous Checklist Manifesto, or other models, you need to deliver.
Now that you’ve made your internal commitment to deliver, refined your strategy and have your effective execution model ready, it’s time to make it happen.