How to improve your execution excellence

Strategy making is a grandiose and heady affair, but by itself does not guarantee successful outcomes. While many attribute successful outcome to grand strategy, seasoned professionals realize execution excellence is what determines the quality of outcome. Execution excellence is a result of loads of commonsense and stick to basics program. In all its simplicity, a solid execution excellence is all about plan-do-act-review and revisit of efforts required to meet the outcomes. Reams have been written about planning, review and control acts of effective execution. I would rather share insights gained by working with some of our client organizations. From a business program perspective, always choose just 3 or 4 objectives that matter to your company. Chasing too many objectives would prove to be counterproductive. Define how each of these objectives would be measured both in terms of financial and non-financial indicators. Also remember, some of the measures may be long term, may emerge only when certain priorities are fulfilled. Align your senior management roles and vision with their respective objectives. Do not attempt to formalize too many things. Processes and systems are fine, they should not be rigid and stifling the initiative and creative solutions that need to emerge at various levels. Communicate to all involved in the transition, the outcomes, expectations and the head rooms (remember Murphy’s law) so that there is enough flexibility to fail, learn and grow. Bean counting beyond a certain level may be an excellent academic big data project, but may not have high ROI from company’s perspective. Ensure the process and systems build allow one to manage root causes broad enough to impact revenue and customer satisfaction.  Communication is the biggest culprit that can affect execution excellence. Insufficient communications, iterative communications with changing goal posts and too implicit communication affect the outcomes. Contradicting communications from senior management and conflicting directions during the midcourse have derailed many a successful programs. Get communication strategy right from how and what to inform, how and whom to influence and finally how to gain advocacy for program must be thought through in detail. Ensure adherence and buy-in from all senior management about communication strategy. People are the key to execution excellence. Some many exit the program citing long haul of change, some may not know how to transition to new role and expectations and so on. Effective use of praise, promotion, handshakes and pat on back for failing and emerging strong must be employed at all levels. In many a program, it is certainly the wins at middle and lower ends that define the momentum of the program. Ensure small wins and headwinds are celebrated. While many companies commit the training and support required for the people, inability of the senior management in letting go of B & C responsibilities hurt the outcomes. Create inclusive mechanisms such as executive council or Program committee to broad base ownership, innovation and results management. Successful working of these mechanisms is key to execution excellence.

Dr TR Madan Mohan

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