Strategic execution is the secret sauce of success

If I were to identify one book pivotal to my company’s success, it would be “Execution” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Simply put, it shows how to get the job done and deliver results … whether you are running a company or in your first management job — plus, it is chock full of real-life examples that reinforce each salient point.

In my infinite wisdom, I thought I knew the true meaning of execution. You just set a goal and eliminate all obstacles. Right? Wrong! What I learned from the book was how little I knew about execution in its truest sense. The book brought clarity to my definition and drove home the fact that to fully understand execution, companies large and small need to keep three key points in mind:

  • Execution is a discipline.
  • Execution must be job No. 1 for business leaders today.
  • Execution must be at the centerpiece of any organization’s culture.

With these three points as a backdrop to our execution strategy, what specific action steps are we taking to support our strategy?

Step No. 1. Engage in regular and sound strategic thinking at all levels of the organization.
Embrace the Rockefeller habits and hold daily meetings with all teams and departments to see what successes and challenges are ahead for them. Post core values prominently around the office and liberally reference them during conversations each day.

Step No. 2. Establish the organization’s top priorities.
Meet with top management in the fourth quarter to develop priorities for the following year. Limit those priorities to a maximum of three to five. Commit to writing and prominently display those priorities around the office. Review them quarterly with the entire staff.

Step No. 3. Create organizational clarity and alignment for all associates.
Devote a portion of each staff meeting to reviewing values and what they mean to both internal and external customers. Go to great lengths to explain not so much the “what” but rather the “why” of their hard work and its meaning within the organization.

Step No. 4. Use every opportunity to reinforce organizational alignment.
How do they say it … tell them, tell them again … tell them again. From time to time, show examples of what misalignment can mean to the organization. And celebrate how true alignment benefits everyone.

Our company has enthusiastically embraced these four action steps, and its success surpassed my wildest expectations. The results were a more engaged workforce, a better understanding and appreciation of our own talent pool and an elevated respect of everyone’s role within the organization.

How many of us feel, in the football vernacular, that we get to the 5-yard line and fumble? By embracing some of these techniques, you will be well on your way to the Super Bowl. By adopting these strategies, it has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be our “secret sauce” to success by way of embracing strategic execution.