In the book titled Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Bossidy, Charan and Burck (2011) argue that “Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes” (p. 5).[i]
Strategies most often fail because they are not executed well. The gap between promises and results is sometimes breathtaking. What gives? One issue may be the difference between what the company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organization to achieve it. That is, leaders must expose reality and act upon it.
Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on that last statement. First, we must work at determining what reality looks like at this moment in time for our organization. This involves a systematic (and ongoing) inward look (capabilities) and outward look (competitors, environment, customers, etc.). Reality is not what we “feel in our gut.” Reality is not “what happened last year.” Reality is not what “the executives in the company say it is.” Reality is, well…it’s the truth.
Christ tells us, “You shall know the truth and truth shall set you free” (John 8:32 New International Version).
This statement gives me hope because the truth is knowable. Think about it. What do you know “for sure?” Any answer outside of Christ and His kingdom is tenuous at best. Why? Because we live in a sinful world that is continually attempting to move away from the truth.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH…” (John 14:6).
And, from a marketplace point of view, nothing stands still. That loyal customer you depend on today could be gone tomorrow. That extremely profitable employee who has been with you for 20 years…you get the picture.
Thus, there is a need to continually “expose reality” in your world. Do you know what is really going on right now in your industry, your market, your company?
But what if you’ve uncovered your present reality and now realize that your people are not capable of taking your organization to the heights that you’ve outlined in your strategic plan? The authors would contend that you are setting yourself (and your organization) up for performance disappointment. Something has to change if you want to execute your plan successfully.
In conclusion, it is the responsibility of the top executive to know the truth so that he or she can act upon the truth. The only way to do this is for the leader’s heart and soul to be immersed in the organization, the market, and the industry. That is, the leader has to be engaged personally and deeply in the business. He or she is responsible for picking other leaders, setting the strategic direction, and conducting operations within the context of reality (the truth). This responsibility cannot be delegated to others no matter what size the organization.
[i] Bossidy, L., Charan, R., & Burck, C. (2011). Execution: The discipline of getting things done. London:
Random House Business.