Which is harder? Strategy or Execution? I ask and your answers are. . . .

With a ratio of  9 to 1 the answer is . . .  (the suspense builds, but more on that in a minute).

It was the late 60’s and Fred Smith was listening to the conversations of the other Jet Jockey’s.   Fred was flying charter flights out of a the Tweed New Haven airport.  The pilots of the other sleek corporate jets were mentioning how their planes were empty.  No passengers.  They were flying around the country delivering computer parts.  These pilots for IBM, Xerox and the like were trying to cover for the need that was not being filled by the hot stock of the day . . . Airbourne Express.  Airbourne was tryiing to meet the demand for fast delivery using space in the belly of commercial airpline flights, but that system was not conducive to high priced, critical computer parts moving around the country.

So Fred Smith wrote his famous paper while in a class at Yale.  Rumored to earn only a “C” (he later said that was something he made up) he proposed a system that was optimized for the transport of materials that “absolutely, positively had to be there overnight.”  It would take years to debug his system, but the success of FedEx (because he liked the distribution method of the Federal Reserve he used part of their name) is a monument to getting the Execution down pat.

I spend a lot of time facilitating groups of executives who want to do their Strategic Planning in a fun environment, where everyone has input and where the energy level needs to be extremely high.  I get to see some very well intentioned planning.

These plans are brilliant whether they are a business, Chamber of Commerce, a restaurant, a major hospital, association, or a university.

But ask, the question when it comes to the point where the discussion focuses on “who is going to do what, when, where and how” and conversation gets interesting.

I ask. . . “What do you call someone who has high strategy hopes but they are low on execution?”

The answers that come back usually have a negative connotation.   The most common are: boss, CEO, visionary, the guys at the top.

I had one client who said, “Kordell, I hope you are not offended by this but we have a name for these people.  We call them consultants.”  Laughter exploded around the room.

My clients are asking for help in elevating their execution abilities, the ability to drive to and meet the numbers.

In one recent survey done by DDI International the question was asked, “what is the single most important ability for an executive?”  Number one at 38% of responses was ‘the ability to drive too and meet the numbers.’   That is execution.

So what are the 7 Execution Keys or Disciplines?  Each has a processes and practice which we can talk about later if you are interested. Depending on the organization they might need one or more of the following to move from “wishes to fishes”.

Execution Disciplines or Plans must. . .

1. They must be reality based. This is to say they must be customer centric.

2. They must be focused on the goals and priorities of the organization

3. Knowing your people and proactively managing who is on the team and what they are focused on.

4. Growing and Developing your Resources.  Creating additional capabilities or becoming unique (can you say innovate and creative?)

5. Following up is not only important, it is essential if you want to get anything done.  There must be accountability.

6. Rewards and corrective actions are used, only if you want results.

7. Know yourself.  Coaching and correlation in a world where people talk to each other.

So 9 to 1 the answer of which is harder . . . the winner is Execution.

Think of your budget and expenses.  If you could get twice the results and spend 40% less would that be important?   Yo can see the need to be accutely aware of driving up execution in what ever you are doing.

And here is the ponder point.  What do you get when you combine high Execution and a great Strategic Plan?

Tune in next week. . .

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