Power of Execution: How to Get Things Done?
“Every idea is great if its greatly pursued”
Great idea is one of the biggest lie of this millennium. I mean, this is THE biggest lie of startup world. Do you think, Facebook is a great idea? Do you think, sharing stupid pictures and updates are value creation? Even today, I can guarantee, if someone does not know about grand success of Facebook, then he/she will never consider to invest in new idea like Faceook. Next question is, if Facebook (and so does many others similar ideas) is not a great idea, then what make it so great and successful?
The simple answer would be EXECTUION. Execution is actually real connection between any dream and reality. If you can find out connection, then you can convert your dream into reality.
Many top notch entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates have re-iterate several times about the power of execution. Why it’s hard to digest that it’s not your idea but your execution skills that cause your startup to fail or succeed. Every idea, which is unique and solving a critical problem for mankind is a great idea. Therefore, it’s not idea, but execution is the king and that’s the power that make or break a startup or as a matter of fact, any business.
The difficult part is that no business schools teach about execution. They talk about marketing, planning, strategy and finance etc. but they barely talk about execution. I also think that execution is individualistic type and it varies from case to case basis; and that’s why school has not been able to formalize a subject on execution. I don’t know but this can be one reason which I think that have causes for schools to not make any subject on execution.
Execution skills come primarily from self-analysis and experience. The reason for so many startups to fail is primarily based on their poor execution skills. Until they get matured in execution and grab enough experience, their startup will fail and so does their entrepreneurial goal. Execution is the key which define successful entrepreneurs over unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs require to persevere and gain experience to understand execution and then implement it to make their venture successful.
I personally have miserably failed in execution. I continuously failed for nine long years until I got to know the value of execution. While going through my entrepreneurial journey, I learnt about pitch, business plan, project plan, investment, and marketing etc. but still I was not able to achieve my entrepreneurial goals. I then started figuring out the killer of my valuable time. I started digging out on what is going wrong and why I am not able to bring our technology in market? Why I am not able to inspire my team? Why I am not able to bring investment? Why I am not able to inspire my people to work for a common goal?
The ultimate conclusion was that I did not have execution expertise. I was not knowing much about it and so I started reading about it. I found some great books on execution, such as Execution, how to get things done ( by Ram Charan) and Execution Premium (by R. Kaplan). These books opened my eyes and provided insight into execution world. I personally recommend startups to read those book.
I came to know that there are four major pillar of any business ’people, strategy, execution and cash’. And if any of these, will not deliver then startup or any business will fail. Here, I would like to share some of my key learnings about people, strategy and execution. There are numerous execution processes available in market but the one, which is highly popular is “Hoshin Kanri” model. Here is my interpretation of Hoshin Karni execution model which I have derived:
QUANTIFY your mission and WRITE IT DOWN.
Make a 3-5 years’ clear plan of what you want to achieve
Break down that in annual plan for what you want to achieve
Break down that annual into monthly plan
Break down that monthly plan into weakly and daily plan.
Now the strategy is ready on paper. The next, million-dollar question would be, how to inspire our people to execute? Why anyone will bother to work on our plan? Why someone who we have hired will put his head, heart and hand in our plan? How we can make people accountable to do their parts? Here are some important points which I think, can be implemented in work culture:
Explicitly and categorically delegate plan to each and every one in team
Modify plan until everyone in team believes into realism of plan.
Getting everyone on same page is crucial, until they believe that it’s doable, there is no plan. So, work with team to make a mutual agreed plan to go ahead.
Do a 5-10 minutes meeting every day to check every day work progress (no micromanagement please)
Do a weekly and monthly long meeting to track where we are and how to reach to next level.
Salary is basis of employment but add incentive, say 25% of salary, for each job/month on successful job completion.
Inspire your team to learn and get strong knowledge, which will be building block or foundation for their career growth.
Work on empowering and helping your team to gain what they want to gain in his or her life.
Align their goal with company goal.
Relentlessly follow up plan daily, weekly, monthly and annually until it executed.
Two very important aspect of execution is follow-up and realism. Until the plan is realist, no one will believe in it and it will not work. So work with team and reach to a realistic plan which are mutually agreed. Also relentlessly follow up until the tasks are complete. Be aware with timeline because life length is limited and we have to do everything within 20-25 years’ time or even less.
In very team meetings, ask questions with each team member about their knowledge about company mission, weekly/monthly/yearly goals and their contribution. Acknowledge their contribution and be thankful to it. Remember, I am talking about genuine thanks to your team members. They are really smart and if you work on empowering them then, they will put their head, heart and hand in your project otherwise they will be disengaged. Create a culture of respect, accountability and trust is crucial for execution.
Another important point in execution is discussing with team members and trying to know what they are expecting to achieve in their career. Think on how to integrate their career plan with company mission. Try to find some fit so that they will feel ownership and personal gain. This is key to execution. Not everyone gets inspired with money so don’t think incentive/bonus can only do the job. Think more than money. Money is essential but employees want to grow in career and think on how you can help them to grow and succeed. This is a hard task for leader to getting inside the employee’s skin because no one tell on straight face about their concerns but rather reflect into their poor performance. It’s a job of a leader to ask right question and gain insight about their plan. They might not have entrepreneurial dream or bank balance of million dollars but they have plan to buy new house or grand wedding. Assist them on how they can achieve that. This all will make difference and they will feel connected with you or your mission. Remember, sometimes it’s hard to train certain type of people to align them. It will be hard to change their attitude and so please take extra care on selection process.
Remember, people often work for people who they like. So make them like you personally. Don’t do cheap acts or anything which downgrade your respect in their eyes. Keep a high moral value so that they feel proud to be associated with you and your company. Value their gain and benefits so that they can value you and your dream.
Please write your comments if you think I have missed something or you want to share your experience about execution.