Companies invest billions of dollars every year in pursuit of the next big idea. But what separates successful companies from competitors is execution – the ability to move from idea to implementation. Aaron Tracy, Hogan COO, discusses execution below.
What is execution?
Put simply, execution is the ability to get stuff done – the link between ideas and results. The best plans in the world are worthless if you can’t pull them off.
What are some important considerations for setting goals?
• Start with a vision and a mission – goals are how you get there.
• Goals must support realization of the vision and mission, this seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people get off track when they’re setting goals.
• Engage your employees – engaged employees believe in the vision and mission as long as the goals make sense in terms of your company’s culture and values.
• Goals should be realistic and achievable, and there should be some reward for getting them done.
• Strategic plans need to reflect the real world (realities of the marketplace, competition and economy) and link to operational plans.
• Pay attention to feasibility – is your goal realistic in the context of the organization's capabilities?
How do you create buy-in and excitement?
• Select the right people, put them in the right job, and empower them to execute.
• Foster an environment of engagement – keep employees apprised of your mission and vision, your goals, and how progress is coming along.
• Preach the beauty and benefit of the end result.
• Understand the importance of culture – if your company is committed to doing things the way they’ve always been done, execution is going to be difficult.
Who do you put in charge?
There are a few questions you should ask when you’re choosing a leader:
• Do they understand and support the vision?
• Do they have integrity?
• Do they have good judgment?
• Do they have the competence required? Some people are more capable of getting things down than others – they should be the ones in position of authority.
How do you keep people on task?
• Empower them to analyze, plan, and execute the goal so they own the delivery schedule – as opposed to barking down unrealistic timelines.
• Understand the team’s values and reward their success throughout the process.
• Establish clear lines of accountability.
How do you motivate project leaders and employees?
Any standard motivational tool will have short-lived, if any, effect if the team is not bought into the vision and mission and engaged in the project. Motivation is all about engagement, which is all about leadership.
What are typical roadblocks?
• Dumb goals
• Bad leadership
• Flavor of the day influence in setting goals
• Personal agendas interfering with organizational agendas
• Accepting poor work or behavior
Do you reward failure? Is there good failure and bad failure?
Successful execution is the result of planning, preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. I’m not sure you reward failure, but you have to be willing to take risks and, therefore, have a tolerance for failure. If you don’t learn anything from failing, then failure is a bigger problem.