Great strategies only succeed through outstanding execution

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When Ram Charan, world renowned business advisor and author, made his keynote address at the World Business Forum in May, he acknowledged that strategy, leadership, creativity and innovation are essential contributors to organisational success, however, he stressed that unless an organisation can execute its plans effectively, it puts at risk long term sustainability.

Responsibility for execution – getting things done in the right sequence, with right priority, right people and at the right time – rests with leaders and managers.  Companies we work with that develop an Achievement focused culture, find it easier strategically and tactically to get the necessary things done. Traits of an Achievement Culture include:

  • The relationship between being valued and achieving is transparent – what performance and non-performance look like are clear;
  • There is a scorecard at every level of the organisation – everyone knows if they are achieving or not;
  • Organisational direction and goals are translated into individual deliverables;
  • People believe that goals need to be challenging but achievable. Team achievement is as important as individual achievement;
  • Planning is used to increase confidence in delivery of agreed goals rather than merely being used as a tool for estimating future performance;
  • In setting and agreeing performance goals time is devoted to anticipating risks to achievement thus reducing the reliance on luck, chance and magic.
  • Ram Charan offered six insights to enable leaders and managers to better execute plans:
    • Ensure there is closure on expectations for delivery. What has to be done, by whom, by when; to gain real commitment this has to be negotiated so people understand what they are accountable for delivering. Accountability is binary, people are either accountable or they are not;
    • Follow through by managers is essential. What are the measures, how will measurement occur and when will it be done?
  • Leaders need to be curious. Because things change so rapidly in today’s business environment leaders need to be constantly scanning for what’s new, what’s changed, what’s different. Ram Charan believes one of the most valuable questions a leader can ask when interacting with their people, clients and business partners is very simply “What’s new?” He maintains you will be amazed what you will find out. Try it.
  • Right people in the right jobs. We are still trying to fit ‘square pegs in round holes’. Be clear about the role, however, his advice is don’t waste unnecessary time and money searching for the perfect candidate, instead define three clear non-negotiable criteria for the role, look for the three or four core skills needed and the person’s ability to grow into the role.
  • Leaders need to perfect the art of asking the right questions. Questions asked need to draw out from people the clarity of their thinking about what has to be implemented. The goal for leaders is to be able to ask simple, insightful questions in fifteen words or less.
  • Leaders Need Laser Focus. Leaders and managers need to ensure work gets done up, down and across the company. The goals are to minimise hierarchy as it frustrates effort and to maximise the synchronisation of the moving parts of the company to maintain the momentum to get things done.

To get things done, to execute, leaders have to be practical, pragmatic, and surround themselves with the right people who are willing to commit to delivering agreed outcomes.  Leaders have to be prepared to maintain sufficient pressure without destroying confidence in order to achieve the required results to ensure long term sustainability and profitability of their organisation.


Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.