- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Random House Business Books; Revised edition edition (February 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847940684
- ISBN-13: 978-1847940681
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 429 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done Paperback – February 1, 2011
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Disciplines like strategy, leadership development, and innovation are the sexier aspects of being at the helm of a successful business; actually getting things done never seems quite as glamorous. But as Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan demonstrate in Execution, the ultimate difference between a company and its competitor is, in fact, the ability to execute.
Execution is "the missing link between aspirations and results," and as such, making it happen is the business leader's most important job. While failure in today's business environment is often attributed to other causes, Bossidy and Charan argue that the biggest obstacle to success is the absence of execution. They point out that without execution, breakthrough thinking on managing change breaks down, and they emphasize the fact that execution is a discipline to learn, not merely the tactical side of business. Supporting this with stories of the "execution difference" being won (EDS) and lost (Xerox and Lucent), the authors describe the building blocks--leaders with the right behaviors, a culture that rewards execution, and a reliable system for having the right people in the right jobs--that need to be in place to manage the three core business processes of people, strategy, and operations. Both Bossidy, CEO of Honeywell International, Inc., and Charan, advisor to corporate executives and author of such books as What the CEO Wants You to Know and Boards That Work, present experience-tested insight into how the smooth linking of these three processes can differentiate one company from the rest. Developing the discipline of execution isn't made out to be simple, nor is this book a quick, easy read. Bossidy and Charan do, however, offer good advice on a neglected topic, making Execution a smart business leader's guide to enacting success rather than permitting demise. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Bossidy, an award-winning executive at General Electric and Allied Signal, came out of retirement to tend to Honeywell (and bring it back to prominence) after it failed to merge with General Electric. Charan has taught at Harvard and Kellogg Business Schools. Collaborating with editor and writer Burck, they present the viewpoint that execution (that is, linking a company's people, strategy, and operations) is what will determine success in today's business world. Bossidy and Charan aver that execution is a discipline integral to strategy, that it is the major job of any business leader hoping not just to be a success but to dominate a market, and that it is a core element of corporate culture. Details of both successful and unsuccessful executions at corporations such as Dell, Johnson & Johnson, and Xerox, to name a few, support not only their how-to method for bringing execution to the forefront but also the need for it. Each author addresses specific topics in paragraphs that begin with either "Larry" or "Ram," and this easy style adds to the appeal of a very readable book. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
The critical linking of strategy, operations and people is the role of the business leader, and in order to accomplish that critical mission, the leader must be meaningfully involved in those three elements - not micromanaging them, but leading them to efficient execution. The leader's most important job is the selection and appraising of the people in the organization, and this element should consume the bulk of their efforts and should never be delegated. The leader must embrace this role and thrive in it to ensure proper execution of the strategy and operations.
The combination of people and strategy lead to an operating plan, in which the execution takes place. This plan needs to be realistic, ambitious, resourced, specific and accountable. The authors note that this piece is often the art that falls short - where the operating plan is divorced from the strategy and people - and the execution suffers.
The book has critical questions and suggestions for the leader, and provides a platform for thought that is focused on getting things done rather than just the what and who theory of planning. An important read.
The basic premise of the book is that success in business comes down to how people, plans, and operations work together and execution is based on those core processes. In other words, leaders need to know their people, what their people need to do, and how their people do it. In all honesty...this seems incredibly basic.
Though there were some helpful parts of the book, it was poorly written. Even basic issues, like voice, are inconsistent. There were several times throughout the book where it seemed entire chapters repeat, let alone stories (I go to a plant, I meet with the leaders, I talk with the people, and I meet with the leaders again) or concepts like candid conversations. Compared to many other leadership books, it had no statistics beyond anecdotal or personal-experience stories.
This book did not read like it was written from someone who's making assumptions on leadership. There's no doubt it came from a place of experience. However, it was a surface-level treatment of leadership basics that left me frustrated for having spent the time reading the entire book. My guess is that if you are a high-caliber leader, this will be an elementary read. If you are a struggling leader, there are better and more helpful books out there for you.
There is plenty of actionable material and lots of ideas to share with the officers of your company (a dynamic HR department, developing a company budget in three days). I don't care for the style and format that the book was written in. It jumps from straight forward discussions to side commentaries by Larry & Ram.
The Big Idea
Leadership without the discipline of execution is incomplete and ineffective, plans remain only plans. Organizations of Execution have three things; 1) a strong business Leader, 2) execution must be the core element of an organizations culture, 3) discipline integral to strategy.
Only the leader can set the tone for an organization.
The Leader must be in charge of getting things done by running three core processes; picking other leaders, setting strategic direction and conduction operations.
Seven essential behaviors of a leader:
1. Leaders must `live' their business. They have to know more than just the basics because they have to ask the tough questions.
2. Insist on realism. You keep a realistic view of the company by constantly asking questions.
3. Set clear goals and priorities. Focusing on three or four priorities will produce the best results from the resources at hand, K.I.S.S.
4. Follow through. Failure to follow through is the major cause of poor execution.
5. Reward the doers. You have to make clear that rewards and respect are based on execution.
6. Expand People's Capabilities. Coaching is the single most important part of expanding an organization's capabilities. The most effective way to coach is to observe and provide useful feedback. Feedback is both what is being done right and what needs to be changed.
7. Know Yourself. It takes emotional fortitude to be open to people and information. It takes fortitude to deal with those who are not performing. It comes from self-discovery and self mastery.
a. Authenticity. Be real. What you see is what you get.
b. Self Awareness. Self discipline and self awareness.
c. Humility. Learn how to listen. Admit that you don't know everything. Admit mistakes.
Culture of Execution
An organization's culture is a sum of it's shared values, beliefs, and norms of behaviors.
The inability to act decisively is rooted in the corporate culture. The leaders create this culture and they are the only ones that can change it.
Cultural change gets real when your aim is execution. Most efforts at cultural change fail because they are not linked to improving the business's outcomes.
The foundation of changing behavior is linking rewards to performance and making the linkages transparent. You want differentiation among options, bonuses, and salary increases.
The people process is more important than strategy or operations. A good people process evaluates, develops and plans for succession. It requires integrity, honesty, a common approach, common language, frequency and above all candid dialog.
The People Process:
1. Companies need to plan out near term, medium term, and long term strategies.
a. Hire and train people to meet these strategies.
2. The Leadership Pipeline
a. Having succession depth prevents employees from stagnating and prevents people from moving up too quickly.
b. Talent reviews - Everyone is reviewed against their current job and potential future jobs.
i. Four Basic Competencies to measure are: Functional skills, Business Skills, Management Skills, and Leadership skills.
ii. They will fall in one of three categories: Good Fit, A Stretch, or Action Required.
c. Managers should also do a retention assessment based on compensation, current role, potential role, effectiveness and risk of loss to the company.
3. Non-performers must be addressed; coached, moved or terminated.
Four Elements of a robust People Process
1. A culture of high performance, which makes you demand the best from individuals.
2. A leader who is not only willing but also ready to question a person's assessment.
3. A collegial culture among the top executives of the enterprise, where they hold each other mutually accountable.
4. The Human Resource department that is integrated into the business process.
Discipline Integral to Strategy
At the Heart of Execution; the people process, the strategy process and the operations process.
A strategic plan must be an action plan that business leaders can rely on to reach their business objectives.
The substance of any strategy is the key concepts and actions that define it.
A business unit strategy defines the direction of the unit. Where it is, where it wants to be, and how it will get there.
To be effective a strategy must be constructed by those who are going to execute it.
Decide on your objectives: what do you want to get done? What are critical issues to understand? Why in the end is this helpful?
A Strong Strategic Plan must address the following questions:
1. What is the assessment of the external environment?
2. How well do we understand existing markets or events?
3. What is the best way to grow the business profitability, and what are the obstacles to growth?
4. Who is your competition?
5. Can the business execute the strategy?
6. What are the important milestones for executing the plan?
7. Are the short term needs balanced against the long term payback?
8. What are the critical issues facing the business?
9. What will the business make money on a sustainable basis?
After the Long Term Strategy has been agreed upon, the Operating Plan is created. The Operating Plan breaks down long term output into short term goals. It puts the reality behind the numbers by answering the "hows". Operating Plans are those programs that your company will complete within the year. The leader is primarily responsible for overseeing the seamless transition from strategy to operations.
1. The Operating Plan is a three part process
o Setting Targets
o Developing an action plan
o Get agreement and closure from all participants.
2. Tradeoffs will have to be made between the companies projects; money & A-Players. The out come of the plan must be clear and specific. The plan should be reviewed quarterly to make sure it is still on track.
3. The four flaws of a typical operating plan
o Doesn't provide dialog on the assumptions
o Built around results that upper management wants and doesn't specify actions to make these results reality
o Doesn't provide coaching opportunities for people to learn the totality of the business.
o Plan is very rigid and doesn't allow for new opportunities or forces people to `trick' the system to make goal.
Quotables and Cool Stories
Repeated Failure drains the energy from an organization.
The execution is the process of discussing, questioning, following through and ensuring accountability.
The hands-off leader is not confronting poor performance, searching for problems to solve and then solving them. They are presiding and only doing half the job.
You do not fix a problem by focusing on it's outcome.
If you are really executing and you are listening to tomorrow's customers as well as today's and planning for their needs.
Typically said of a new management initiative; "This too will pass".
Goals don't mean much if no one takes them seriously.
A manager who is emotionally weak will avoid hiring people who are smarter than they are. To them, loyalty is most important.
Failure to deal with underperformers is an extremely common problem, it is usually the result of a managers blockages.
We don't think of ourselves into a new way of acting. We act ourselves in to a new way of thinking.
You get what you measure.
The harmony - sought by many leaders who wish to offend no one - can be the enemy of truth.
Leaders get the employee behavior that they exhibit and they tolerate.
"I want bigger margins than anyone else, and to accomplish this we have to have great people and train them better and faster than anyone else. We need educational programs that are focused on key business issues and problems, the things that matter".
In general the DNA of the people who can execute the model is fundamentally different from the DNA of the people who run a model.
If a strategy does not address the "hows", it is a candidate for failure.
Sometimes leaders strategize themselves into the wrong business.