Some people claim that ideas, while important, are not as crucial as good execution. I belong to that group of people. Because an idea without execution is just an idea.
What does good execution mean?
Execution is not just operations. It is about making the whole idea work. I define good execution as being able to convince a bunch of people with different interests, to willingly work in tandem towards a common goal.
However, be sure to constantly review the goal though. Ever heard of the saying, great landing but wrong airport? It is possible to have great execution, but delivered something totally irrelevant.
Types of execution
There are two types. Planning and doing. Market research, strategy and business intelligence are functions you will find the planner in. Operations and customer service are functions you will find the do-er in.
The planner analyses the idea and commissions the necessary market research. The strategy is created based on the findings. Necessary actions are identified and processes created for the do-er. The do-er does as he is told. Business intelligence gathers operational data to gain further insights and recommend changes.
Different type of people for the different parts of execution
When it comes to planning, it is important to have logical people with diverse backgrounds. They will ensure that the business idea is throughly examined from multiple angles and that any illogical strategies are filtered out.
In the planning for doing stage, people who can see the bigger picture will be able to see potential pitfalls and mitigate them. For example, a good warehouse manager will take into account longer term concerns like scalability when designing layout and processes.
In the doing stage, you need street smart people. People who can solve problems on the fly, and think of workarounds. People who can prioritise issues and have the stamina to see through the long process to operational excellence.
So what does it take?
Many companies have managed to attract great talents for each function of their business but still suck at execution. Why? That’s because people are still working in silos.
To execute well, communication is key. More often than not, we find the do-er doing something that is not in line with what the planner wants. It could be due to miscommunication or simply because the new message wasn’t passed down to the do-er. Both the planner and do-er need to work in tandem to achieve something.
But to communicate well is not just about sending emails. As discussed above, a diverse group of people is necessary for success. This also means that the team is likely to have people with different personalities. To close the communication gap, teamwork is necessary. It’s not easy and takes time to build a team, but that’s the only answer to the communication gaps. Get rid of individual KPIs. They encourage selfish behaviour.
Good communication enables quick information flow. This in turn enables faster learning, another important factor of good execution. The market is always changing. Good execution today can become bad execution tomorrow. If it doesn’t, no harm making good execution today perfect execution tomorrow. To execute well, you need to learn from your mistakes quickly. The faster you learn, the steeper the gradient of your growth vs time curve. If you’re new, you will intersect and overtake your competitors quickly. If you’re already the market leader, you will widen your margin against your competition.