(Loosely based on Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies of War)
Based on the 12 execution titles surveyed, here are 33 recurring themes as identified by the authors of these books:
1. Never launch an initiative unless you’re personally committed to it.
2. Make execution part of the organisation’s culture and DNA.
3. Build an execution culture that continually anticipates and adapts.
4. Picture execution not as a single street but as a network of unique smaller and larger interlinked roads.
5. Focus your organisation on the few (3-4) most crucial priorities.
6. At any given moment, focus fully on the one task that is the single most important thing you could do right now.
7. Get used to making distinctive, tough and decisive choices, remembering that sometimes it’s OK to be an autocrat.
8. Hold a compelling kick-off event to create momentum.
9. Spell out the specific action tasks in writing.
10. Thoroughly clarify your strategic goals and how the organization plans to achieve them.
11. Insist on robust dialogue.
12. Break your strategy down into manageable near-, medium- and long-term goals – and make all the pieces fit by using plans, schedules, budgets and controls.
13. Follow up like crazy without driving people crazy.
14. Keep asking: “So what’s the next action?
15. Create a seamless integration between organisational and individual performance.
16. Synchronize all the moving parts of the organization to make sure they all share a common understanding.
17. Have the courage and emotional fortitude to tackle non-performers.
18. Don’t keep options open – avoid analysis paralysis.
19. Never finish a meeting without clarifying what the follow-through will be, who will do it, when and how they will do it, what resources they will use.
20. Inspect what you expect – If it’s important, measure it:
21. Develop contingency plans – consider unexpected scenarios and have back-up plans in place.
22. Capture and spread what you learn.
23. Get agreement and closure from all participants.
24. Use political skills to identify your allies and enlist the mavericks who will help you overcome political obstacles.
25. End the project with another event where team members are recognized, and possibly rewarded.
26. Leverage the power of internal and external partnerships
27. Generate creative tension.
28. Separate executive meetings about operations from meetings focused on strategy.
29. Shorten the performance monitoring cycle from quarterly to monthly or weekly.
30. Set intermediate goals and measure your progress – conduct a formal performance evaluation at the end of each performance management cycle.
31. Be clear about who has final approval of changes – clearly define ramifications of accepting and implementing a change to your action plans.
32. Avoid internal struggles, turf wars and silo thinking.
33. Get T-shirts (operations), Turtlenecks (marketing), and Suits (management) to speak the same language.