Wednesday, 6 June 2012

6. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Execution: The discipline of getting things done, presents the behaviors and processes for leaders of enterprise sized companies to become successful at execution of C-level business strategy.  It also takes the time to exemplify the behaviors and processes within C-level leadership in North American companies. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan take readers on a journey showing where execution was carried out impeccably and where it was carried out with less success. The examination begins with seven essential behaviors of strong leadership which are followed by the three core processes of execution.

To let you know a bit about the authors, Larry Bossidy had illustrious careers with General Electric and Allied Signal which later became Honeywell. Ram Charan has been a full-time consultant since 1978 working with such companies as General Electric, the Bank of America and KLM. Both of these experienced professionals use their considerable experience and knowledge to bring light to the essential characteristics of a leader and the core processes of execution.
The seven behaviors of a leader outlined in this book are:
-          Know your people, know your business.
-          Insisting on realism
-          Set clear goals and priorities
-          Reward doers
-          Expand capabilities
-          Know yourself

Having leaders who typify these behaviors is critical to ensure the success of a company, its people and in turn its shareholders. In the book, these characteristics are linked to a certain characteristic – that being, emotional fortitude. To be able to consistently exert these behaviors a leader must have the emotional fortitude to carry the weight of decision making that may not be most pleasant, but leads to the best outcomes. A leader must be able to face the realism of a failing strategy as much as the success of a company. He must be able to set clear goals and priorities for all levels of a company. He must be able to discern between the real doers and those who appear to be doers. He must be able to pull the best out of his people in the toughest of times. And last he needs to be able to look in the mirror seeing both his strengths and his weaknesses.
The three Core Processes are:
-          The People Process
-          The Strategy Process
-          The Operations Process

Each of these is tied very well, not only to one another, but the foundation of the seven essential behaviors of a leader as well. These processes are described in detail from the perspective of candidates for CEO and the CEO position itself. The writers experience at this time really shines through as the necessary actions to achieve a culture of execution in people, strategy and operations is dealt with in great detail. An ongoing theme that was echoed throughout the book is one of vigorous debate which was highlighted in each section – vigorous dialogue to find the right people, vigorous dialogue to pursue the right strategy and vigorous dialogue to ensure the right operational process.
The book ends with a great fictional letter to a new CEO about to take on her new position. This letter is a brilliant conclusion tying together all the points made throughout the book. It takes a motivational read on how to execute and ties it neatly together with a believable vision.

The B2B Discussion of Execution: The discipline of getting things done
The discussion of this book was, to say the least, was a vigorous dialogue which focussed on two main areas; first, how the book helped us professionally and two, how it mirrored our own experiences in and supporting leadership roles.
In regard to how this book aided members professionally, the discussion centered in on the seven essential behaviors. Members looked at the seven essential behaviors and asked, “How well do I exemplify these behaviors?” Each member went on to consider specific behaviors that were in need of improvement.  This was particularly illuminating as all felt improving upon these behaviors would dramatically improve performance.
There was great debate of leaders in all members past and present careers in comparison to the seven essential behaviors and the core processes. A great deal of time was spent in the application of the book’s theory to constructively criticising leader’s successes and failures.  In the end, answers were found, but moreover, the need of emotional fortitude and vigorous dialogue   in relation to the essential behaviors and core processes held true. All members would recommend the book to a colleague.