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Showing 1-10 of 197 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 429 reviews
on March 1, 2016
This is severely dated at this point, and their knowledge of how IBM was run under Sam Palmisano is woefully incorrect. If you can ignore the first 3rd of the book, the other two thirds focusing on strategy and people processes are great. They all have to be in sync to move forward, but gone are the days of the line manager being pushed down from above to make all the decisions, instead it is up to the players to make the decisions.
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VINE VOICEon March 24, 2012
Bossidy and Charan dive into the critical gap of getting things done in this management classic. Focused on execution, the authors discuss the critical components for leadership within an execution/get stuff done environment. Pointing out the failures of hands off management, ivory tower thinking and micromanagement, the emphasis is on those critical elements that combine the what needs to be done and who needs to do it to execute on a business strategy or operational plan.

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.
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on February 24, 2015
After reading this book in one sitting, I am not entirely certain what it brings to the table that an experienced leader would not already know.

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.
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on November 2, 2010
My Opinion
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.

Business Leader

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.
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on January 19, 2017
Projects fail on execution.

Execution is the difference between success and just trying.

Typically, companies and individuals don't know how to execute.

A well-executed book about execution. Loved it.
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on April 8, 2012
For the Christmas Holidays, as we were packing the ski stuff from the basement before we left to VT, I chanced upon some books lying there, and noticed the one titled 'Execution,' by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan which I had bought almost 8 years ago but never got around to reading it. On a whim, I decided to take it with me and ended up reading it through these holidays.

A quick caveat to put aside. I do wish folks would not use company names as examples in books. The original one of these, "In Search of Excellence" by Tom Peters did that. So did Jim Collins in "Good to Great". And this book does it too. What happens is that the authors use some company as an example to cite either a good or a bad practice. And a decade has passed and things have changed (perhaps 180 degrees). And that induces a chuckle in addition to both dating the book and casting doubt on the claim.

However, at least for this book, 'Execution', the above is only a caveat, since I found the book quite meaningful. The reason I perhaps did not read it when I first bought it many years ago is that it felt genuinely elementary. I was at the peak of my strategy work and when you are working on projects that are either reshaping a company or positioning oneself in new markets, the discipline of execution seems not only boring, but downright waste of time (not the importance of it mind you, but rather spending time thinking or reading about it).

However, now that I have moved on from the strategy function myself and am in a line management role with accountability for business results and accountability for a team and partner-relationships to deliver those results, I view this book in an entirely new light!

To share a personal reaction as I read this book ( a feeling I have not had since when I sat for my twelfth grade board examination!) - when I thought about implementing the ideas that Larry and Ram were talking about in their book on Tuesday morning Jan 2nd when I return to work, my stomach tightens into a knot! The level of sustained focus, discipline, follow through, attention to detail they expect in execution is non-trivial to say the least. Again, conceptually easy to grasp; but quite daunting if one thinks about putting them into real practice on a sustained basis throughout an organization!

Very briefly, they touch upon the strategic, people and operational processes as three core processes that are building blocks for execution and show how the three are related to each other. And through their experience and examples demonstrate how to implement each of these effectively. One particular insight that I liked that Larry made in particular was, 'just because an executive is good in her current job, does not mean she is ready or capable for the next'. Which is similar to what our Chairman says, "do the job you have been assigned, not your previous one."

Of course with a background in engineering (and manufacturing to boot), this whole notion of execution and organizing to execute is not alien to me at all. And in reality, my immersion for a long time in strategic work was what I needed to be more lithe in my thinking. However executing by one self or with a small team in a localized way on a specific deterministic engineering problem is one challenge. But to do the same with large revenues and large teams at stake and working through your teams through other teams with high week-to-week dependence on market conditions is another challenge.

This timely book was very worthwhile spending time with. Dated examples notwithstanding, one of the more immediately useful and relevant books in the business genre that I have read in a long time.
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on November 9, 2016
This is a very educational and well written book, but it is extremely dry. The first parts can easily be applied to any and every business,. The last part was my difficult for me to relate to as a retail associate.
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on September 19, 2015
It's good book for executive leadership. If you are self-employed, it's a bit over your head with all its metrics and quantitative information. It's not practical for the everyday small business owner such as a landscaper, tutor, realtor, or scamway rep.
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on May 25, 2004
The primary value of this book is its emphasis on "management" as being the primary focus of successful business leaders. Far too many business books talk in flowery terms about strategy and enablement, and relegate the management function of execution to lower ranks than those occupied by their enlightened readers.
This book has its priorities right and for that reason can be recommended to those who wish to make a difference. A criticism might be that the advice given requires considerably less than the 278 pages devoted to it.
... and what is that advice?
Primarily, of course, it is to focus on accomplishing one's objectives rather than trumpeting them. Seemingly obvious but the fog of emotional involvement in difficult and fast-paced business situations can make even the most experienced and level-headed business leaders lose their bearings. And, of course, there's always hubris.
1. Know your business, internally and externally, in detail
2. Know your people intimately
3. Make your objectives clear, few, simple and realistic
4. Reward achievement of the explicit objectives and no others
5. Know yourself and subordinate your ego; eat your own cooking
6. Good people are everything
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on March 8, 2010
A few years ago, the reading club at my company proposed this book. Immediately I yelled "Boring!" When asked why, I said, "Execution is what we do every day. I question that this will stretch us." Now I finally have read the book, and stand by my initial comment.

There is some value here, to be clear. Some interesting anecdotes. Some fascinating preening by Bossidy, who clearly sees himself, Jack Welch, and one or two others as smarter than anyone else in the corporate world. And some healthy focus on the how of moving from strategy to action, and on the importance of developing leaders.

But the book's fundamental premise, that companies fail (unless run by him, Jack or a few friends) because they don't execute, only stands because the authors subordinate strategy to execution. In other words, execution means strategy, plus moving from strategy to action. Well, I guess. I just don't see much value in that definition.

Let's keep the issues separate. Strategy matters. If you agree with that, then read Jim Collins and a host of others to figure out what matters most. How strategy is built matters. If you agree with that, this book has some useful ideas, but nothing I haven't seen in several companies. And moving strategy into action to achieve results matter. Again, this book has useful ideas, but nothing that rocks my world.

Bottom line, the book over reaches. Worth a quick scan. Definitely some good ideas. But it reads like a vanity piece. I found no intellectual rigor here, no "ah ha!" insights, no frameworks I could add to my management toolkit.

Net, as I suspected years ago: Boring!
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