Effective Execution Closes the Gap Between Planning and Results


According to “Get It Done” authors Ralph Welborn and Vince Kasten, “More than 64 percent of C-level executives from 250 midsized to large companies in the United States and the European Union have said that being able to execute, to ‘react quickly to changing business opportunities, models, technologies, and processes is critical for their success,’ and yet is nearly impossible to achieve.” It would seem that execution is truly a forgotten art. Sadly, many companies are missing out on primary benefits that go unrealized due to the lack of an effective execution plan.

With a few core alterations in their processes, these companies could easily:

• Bring innovative products to market faster than the competition.

• Achieve higher profits through doing it right the first time.

• Meet targeted goals that result in increased shareholder confidence.

• Increase the morale and confidence of employees throughout the organization.

• Enhance the organization’s reputation as a leader in its industry.

• Attract top talent to work for the organization.

Let’s review five areas in which clear execution can have a predominant impact.

Identify Top Performers

People are vitally important in the execution of strategies. Once ideas are developed into strategies, it is people who carry those ideas into implementation. Whether they do so poorly or effectively is oftentimes debatable. The key is to identify your top performers and involve them in the progression of your plans. In The Talent Management Handbook – Creating Organizational Excellence by Identifying, Developing and Promoting Your Best People, authors Lance and Dorothy Berger encourage organizations to create a customized list of their own core competencies, then map the competencies to each job. When you effectively source and align top performers with the right jobs, the organization will have the talent it requires now and in the future to attain its strategic goals.

Identify Goals That Support Strategies

Through Decisive Actions

Strategy and goals go hand-in-hand. Organizations that succeed in execution have strategies that are:

• Well thought out and clearly defined

• Consistently communicated within their organization and with customers

• Strictly adhered to the actions (execution) that follow make or break the strategy. And so the formula goes:

• Identify the goals

• Determine the strategy

• Then take the appropriate action (execution) to make it all happen.

If your goal is to increase corporate sales by 15% by the end of the 4th quarter, your strategy may be to develop a plan so that each individual on the sales team has identified their key and target accounts. The actions you may take to accomplish the goal may include each sales person creating their key account list of 20 accounts that are qualified to spend over $50,000 and a target list of at least 10 accounts.

Successful Communication

Poor communication is one of the most detrimental factors in new strategies. Before effective execution can take place, everyone involved must fully understand the strategy as well as the goals and the actions expected of them. Corporate speak must be defined to ensure fluid operations. An assumption that key terms and ideals are understood could undermine your level of success. Make a concerted effort to incorporate explicit communication into every phase of your goal setting, strategy planning and execution.

Establish a Committed Execution Mindset

Frequently, visionaries and upper management can fall victim to the habit of assuming others will perform the execution of a plan rather than establishing a mindset of execution. When this happens, a pothole is formed along the pathway that leads to accomplishment. Likewise, some employees who may not be primarily involved with the implementation may neglect to realize that they, too, need to be committed to an execution mindset. Everyone should have a core understanding of the plan, their roles and how to proceed.

Follow-Up and Follow-Through

This prominent management policy is not forgotten when it comes to effective execution. To ensure execution continues on track from conception to completion follow-up is vital. However, determining the level and frequency at which you will follow-up may require some experimentation. Test several methods and observe the results to discover what works best for your team. You may choose to use one-on-one reviews, reports, group reviews, department or site visits, problem solving sessions or other methods. You can be one of the few companies who progresses past what others have deemed an insurmountable challenge. You can overcome and excel where others have failed. When you focus on the vehicle that will carry you from strategy to success, the gap between planning and results will close quickly.



Katherine Graham-Leviss is the founder and president of XBInsight, a state-of-the-art talent assessment company that gives executives the actionable information they need to make smart people-decisions. She is the author of The Perfect Hire: A Tactical Guide To Hiring, Developing and Retaining Top Sales Talent and High-Maintenance Employees: Why Your Best People Will Also Be Your Most Difficult…and What You Can Do About It.