Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ONE Thing - a singular focus, disciplined execution



Our growth as an organization from an entrepreneurial start up into a global corporate force continues to evolve. No one is more culpable than the entrepreneurial founder, yours’ truly, in creating the problem in the first place - although I prefer to describe myself as a reformed entrepreneur these days.

Like attracts like”, and many of the first followers and a high percentage of the key staff have been fairly entrepreneurial also.

Preserving this talent, whilst also evolving the business into a disciplined growth machine, with unwavering focus and steady execution is an ongoing challenge.

Some recent reading on the topic has left me with a number of key themes:

From “Execution – Create the vision. Implement the plan. Get the job done.” ~ Tom Gorman 207

·      Success comes from executing the right plans, not the planning process its self.
·      Manage your time well, because it is your most limited and precious resource.
·      Every aspect of your firm should create value by contributing to profits and growth.
·      Your ability (as a leader) to remain positive and energized is essential.

From “The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving your Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) ~ Sean Covey, Chris McChesnet and Jim Huling (all from Franklin Covey)

·      Identifying your businesses goals by determining which changes will exert the greatest impact.
·      Strategy without an effective method of execution is worthless.
·      The greatest challenge is not in developing the plan: its in changing the behavior of the frontline individuals that execute if whilst managing the never-ceasing demands of the whirlwind.
·      The challenge is executing your most important goals in the midst of the urgent.
·      Basically the more you try to do the less you will accomplish.

Covey breaks it down into the following:

Discipline 1: teaches you to set a target. To achieve a WIG, define a measurable, specific goal based on getting from one place to another by a set deadline. “Focus on the Wildly important”.
Discipline 2: Identify the activities that provide the greatest leverage for achieving the WIG.
Discipline 3: calls for visible scoreboards that show how teams and team members are performing and offers the results as benchmarks.
Discipline 4: Instills accountability through weekly meetings called “WIG sessions”. ‘Create a cadence of accountability’

From “Making Strategy Work – Leading effective Execution and Change”. ~ by Lawerence Hrebniak 2005

·      Making strategy work is more difficult than strategy making.
·      The problem with poor performance typically is not with planning, but with doing. That is Strategies often aren’t implemented successfully.
·      Execution is critical to success. Execution represents a disciplined process or a logical set of connected activities that enable an organization to take a strategy and make it work.

From “The One Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” ~ By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

·      Multi-taking’ is often the biggest obstacle to achieving your goals.
·      Superior success comes from extraordinary focus on your “ONE Thing”.
·      Developing a singular focus on what’s necessary puts many larger forces in motion. And guides you as to how to spend your time.
·      Trade your “to-do” list for a short “success List” and use it to chart your course – block out time for the things that are truly important.
·      Learn to say no and accept the chaos that accompanies any pursuit of greatness.
·      Take care of your health and energy with good food, exercise, stress relief family time and sleep in order that you can be a consistent force driving your ONE thing.

In the early 1990’s, a grumpy old cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance, revealed the secret to life in a popular movie called, “City Slickers”.
“One thing, just one thing. You stick to that.”
He told a city slicker named Mitch, played by Billy Crystal. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxY31-FcDVA)

Success builds on its self; it is “sequential, not simultaneous.”

Frequently, in a work context, people take on more and more projects in an effort to increase their value and contribution – for some being “intertwined” gives a feeling of job security. In reality, the opposite is usually true. Being a jack-of-all and a master-of-none is an easy role to dispense with. Equally the way to be valued and get promoted is to stick to one business, whether a team, an area or a nation and do it really well. It is the individuals who visibly grow: profit, revenue and head count that are the most promotable. ~ TMH

Very successful brands reached the top by focusing on ONE thing. KFC for example.

One-shot prioritizing –  “going small” with a focus on a singular goal – enables people to get more done in a day.

You want your achievements to add up, but that actually takes subtraction, not addition. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.


From “The Other Side of Innovation” – Solving the Execution Challenge. ~ by Vijay Govindaranjan and Chris Trimble.

Once companies achieve success, they tend to act like “performance Engines” They strive to make day-to-day operations repeatable, predictable, disciplined and efficient.
Unfortunately, “innovation and ongoing operations are inevitable in conflict”
Beyond small or routine projects, every innovation initiative requires a “Dedicated team” Build is as if you are building a new company from the ground up.

Ongoing operations is a world of 90% data, 10% unknowns. A bold innovation initiative, on the other hand, might be just the reverse: 10% data and 90% unknowns.

Closing the Execution Gap – How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results” ~By Richard Lepsinger

·      Effectively executing your organizations vision and goals requires an Action Plan.
·      Action plans explicitly details what will happen, when and who is responsible.
·      Define your firms visions in terms of specific goals. Then create an action plan that meets those goals through a series of specific, discrete tasks.
·      Employees perform at their best when their leaders demand excellence.
·      Hold workers accountable to clearly stated performance and time standards.
·      Businesses that cannot handle change execute poorly.

“Establishing priorities is the essence of execution – Action Plans are the corner stone of execution.”

Skillful execution – not visionary leaders or elaborate company strategies is what produces results.

1/ Translate strategy into action – an Action Plan
2/ Expect Top performance from staff – focus on what they do well and make the unconscious conscious.
3/ Hold people accountable.


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