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Stefan Kazakis on 23 June 2018

As the old saying goes (usually attributed to Edison, but variations of it have been heard for centuries): “Vision without execution… is just hallucination.”

Execution is the activity, the actual doing of the work, the rubber hitting the road. Execution requires far more work – and so has far greater incidences of epic failure. This in turn relates back to the strategy not being deep enough. 

Remember, well thought out means well executed. So, it only follows that poorly executed means poorly thought out. Make sure you put the required time and effort into the plan to begin with.

EDM vision2

You need to be productive in accordance with your plan, and you also need to be flexible in accordance with your plan, based on where you are at right now and where you may need to go. Being productive is not being robotic. Having a non-adaptable and inflexible approach can also be a source of failure. 

What’s working? 
What’s not? 
Why, and what are we doing about it? 
What did we do last week? 
How does that affect what we’re doing this week? 

Being productive requires the ability to reflect on and confirm what is working and what is not, and then acting accordingly. 

What needs to be finetuned if the trends are indicating something is not working? 

You must not be so dogmatic as to stick with what you’re doing when clearly something is wrong. It’s not about making a new plan every day. 

It’s about getting the plan right and then sticking to it, while still being flexible along the way. Deep planning should happen every other year. 

It’s fair to say you can’t have it all. To be truly productive you must become master of one thing and then bolt on from there. Less is better. 

Less is more. 

Reduce your obligations. Make things tighter and tighter so that your outcomes are crystal clear, and you can build a team that is completely aligned to the execution for the most important strategy in your business right now. Productivity is about becoming fixated on the most important things rather than the myriad things that you thought needed to be done. 

Outcome-Based Thinking and Execution

Execution is where the game is won and lost – there are no two ways about it. Anybody can come up with the best plan. Anybody can make fancy, colourful spreadsheets, detailed financial projections and jazzy marketing plans. But what are they worth in a colour-coded folder? Nothing. You have to be out there in the real world talking the talk and walking the walk. 

So, how do you do this? How do you go from your plan to execution? 

To achieve consistent execution, you must develop good patterns of behaviour. It’s about creating habits of being really clear and following through. It’s about duplicating the behaviours that have worked for you so far and discarding those that haven’t. 

It’s about having clarity every day and executing in accordance with your strategic plan. You must improve your weaknesses and double up on your strengths. 

Why is it about patterns? 

It’s because developing good patterns is the road to long-term, sustainable success. Waking up and feeling motivated and sticking to your plan some days and not others is not the pathway to success. 

Success is about having the discipline and follow-through to execute to the ‘Nth’ degree every day. It’s about developing the pattern of well thought out and well executed. 

Life is a pattern. When you look back you will see patterns and trends that have led you to where you are today. You need to look at each of these and decide whether to duplicate or eliminate them. 

If you have a pattern that you always do things at the eleventh hour, that’s a pattern that you have to break. If you have a pattern that you do things well in advance, and this gives you great results, that’s a pattern that you have to keep and build on. 

If you have bad patterns you will always gravitate towards the things that are easy and you like doing rather than what is most productive. When your pattern is being too busy and the good results are not showing up, you are always in emergency mode, and that is a pattern that needs to be broken. 

When you gravitate towards things that you love doing rather than what your plan says you should be doing, that’s an emotional decision rather than a strategic decision. 

Emotion has a huge influence on people’s patterns. Making decisions based on emotions is also the hardest pattern to break.


Who is responsible and accountable? 

When it comes to execution, you can break this bad pattern of emotional decision-making by being clear about who is responsible for getting each task, opportunity and conversation moving. 

This will keep you – and everybody else in your organisation – accountable to the bigger picture. 

It’s also important to understand where the support is. Having somebody to keep you and everybody in your team accountable is key for productivity. Where are your support structures when it comes to outcome-based thinking and execution? Who is keeping you accountable? Are you or people in your team willing and able to put their hands up and say, ‘I need somebody to help me through here. I need better clarity/coaching/training/ assistance’. 

This can be in house or outsourced, online or offline.


How will it be measured? 

When it comes to execution you need your scoreboard to confirm you are moving things forward in line with the plan, that you are moving forward in creating value. It’s not okay to think she’ll be right,because she won’t be. You can’t focus on building a ‘great culture’ at the expense of progression.

That leads to a train wreck every time. Productivity is the big game. Productivity is the only game. If the brutal truth is you’re losing right now, you must stay strong and weather the storm. How are you going to measure this? And who is going to keep you accountable and on track when this happens?

Who is going to ensure that you find the few things that you need to change to get back on course, rather than returning to shore and scuttling the ship and starting all over again? 

If your pattern is to turn for home at the first sight of storm clouds, you will always be at the start of something. You will never get through the rougher waters and emerge stronger on the other side. You may be just three feet from the treasure when you turn around. 

Remember, not everything will be right all the time because we are all human and always in learning mode, but if you have good patterns of behaviour, responsibility and accountability, you will find maximum results in minimum time.


Listen to our Podcast Episode on this topic: "Vision vs Execution"



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