Execution, without helping us execute

I recenty re-read Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy's book, Execution. There were some interesting ideas about why having a culture of execution is important, but I found the book lacking in practical advice about actually executing a strategy. Charan and Bossidy provide some great examples of questions to ask about strategy development and review, but not much what to do once you have answered those questions and need to execute your strategy. That's because the book's perspective on execution is about the senior leader and what he or she needs to do.

For example, Charan and Bossidy believe that a large number of strategies fail because the leaders don't make a realistic assessment of whether the organization can execute the plan. Firstly, I disagree with their premise. I believe most strategies fail because the tactics used to implement the strategy are not aligned with the strategy itself and there is a lack of accountability for strategy implementation.

Secondly, Charan and Bossidy provide very little guidance on how to deal with this complex concern. What if an organization has made a realistic assessment and it doesn't have the right capabilities? Should that organization then change its' strategy to align with the capabilities it has? That was the impression I was left with after reading the book. The strategy of an organization needs to be developed based on a realistic view of where the organization wants to be (the desired future state), not its' ability to execute. The key to executing that strategy is ensuring the right people are in the right roles and there is accountability for results. If the organization doesn't have the right people in the right roles, then they need to go out and get them.

Don't use your people as a limiting factor in the development of your strategy. Use your strategy as a way to ensure the right people are being brought into your organization.

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