Tony DeMeo

Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

                                                                                    By: Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan
Whether in business or athletics the execution of a plan is a far more important ingredient of success than the plan itself. Larry Bossidy & Ram Charon have written one of the best books on this topic that I have read. I would rank this book, Execution, right up there with Jim Collins’ best seller,  Good to Great as a must read business book.
Larry Bossidy is a chairman and CEO of Honeywell International Inc., a 25 billion diversified technology and manufacturing leader. And Ram Charan is a well known advisor and consultant to numerous CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Together they have put together a book that would have been right out of Vince Lombardi or John Wooden’s playbook. They have been there and done that.
The importance of the discipline of detailed execution can never be overlooked in any organization. Bossidy view this as the main job of a CEO. He says it’s more than just tactics; it is a culture. It is a specific set of behaviors that will yield positive results.
Part one of this book deals with “Why Execution is needed”. You would be hard pressed to find a coach or a leader anywhere that doesn’t know execution is needed but they don’t all insure that it takes place. Strategies fail because they can’t be executed by the people in the organization. We all know of football teams that try to execute Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense with a quarterback that couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean from a boat. Does that mean the West Coast Offense is a lousy offense? No it means the system and talent are not congruent. The strategy must be subordinate to the team’s ability to execute.
It seems so obvious, why do some people miss this point? First off talking about execution isn’t sexy, talking about vision is. Many execs view themselves as “big picture guys” they are above the nit and grit of details. Developing details is hard work. There are no quick fixes. It took Einstein ten years to come up with the theory of relativity. It takes grit to execute. It’s easier to change strategy and come up with a new slogan than to teach and preach the discipline of details. Many execs know they are not reaching their goals they just know why and thus can’t right the ship.
In part two, “The Building Blocks of Execution” Bossidy and Charan also discuss the importance of developing a culture of details and discipline in turnaround situations. Turnarounds occur when a series of building blocks are put in place and a culture is developed around these building blocks. They proceed to go through the specific building blocks that are required. It starts with Block #1 – know your people. Before developing a strategy, know what your people can or can’t do. The second block is developing the proper environment. The authors go into detail of all seven building blocks.
Part three,“The Three Core Processes of Execution” is my favorite part of the book. The first core process is the people process, linking your people and your strategy. Jim Collins, in Good to Great, talks about getting the right people on the bus. The authors in this book talk about making sure those on the bus can execute your strategy. This basically the “who” process.
The second core process is the strategy process. This is basically the “how” process. How we are going to get it done. The key is to have the people and strategy linked. My philosophy was always to have very flexible schemes that were easily adaptable to the particular personnel that was available. That’s why we were so balanced offensively. We could easily adapt The Triple Gun Offense to a great running quarterback who was just an average passer or a great passing quarterback with only average running ability.  We also could feature any exceptional skill player.
The final core process is the operations process. This is the actual allocation of the resources. This is the path to executing the strategy. This is putting the budget together to pay for the strategy. This is tying it all together. The authors say the CEO must be totally hands ion in every core process.
This is a very brief synopsis of a very detailed book. Execution is a book that I would strongly recommend to coaches, business leaders, or leaders in any field. I would especially recommend it to first time head coaches because it goes through many of the decisions you are going to have to make to put your program on the right track to success. I would also recommend the audio book of Execution, it’s very well done and it helps to reinforce the main ideas of the book. Execution is not a sexy topic; our society is enamored with trick plays and magic bullets but those that win consistently know how to execute.