▼Planning, Operations, Team Building & Project Management▼
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After the initial iteration of this blog, someone asked: “Sure but strategy execution's boring, isn't it?”
It depends how serious you are about winning, surviving, or converting great ideas to great success. How robust an Accountability and Performance culture you want. The quality of team(s) executing your vision. Which country you set up shop, and their culture nuances. Plus, how devoted you are to prioritizing and tracking lead measures over lag measures. All explained below. Images hyperlinked.
Further, assuming your organization is professionally run, leveraging Business Intelligence (BI) will be rightly seen as vital in this Age of the Customer. Meaning, nailing BI strategic execution is key.When I first arrived in China in 2004, I quickly realized the average stranger one often needed QUICK help from, didn't know what to do when you handed them a mobile phone to speak with your Chinese friend, say. It didn't matter whether or not your request was made in English or Chinese.
They'd take your phone, waste so much time looking at it and back at you puzzled. Then look back again at the phone. Until you physically grabbed both that person's hand AND the phone, and put it to their ear! I'd lived in several countries before. Never encountered that. And by 2016, not much had changed. Which explains why Hong Kong, India and the Philippines have thriving service economies.
Now imagine all the moving parts in any high stakes cut-throat business competition. Or world championship football. Also, watch, or remember Al Pacino's legendary “The inches we need are everywhere around us” speech in Any Given Sunday (1999). Can you afford slow reaction with a life or market share at risk? Or hire wrong talent to do strategy implementation in the wrong economy?
Imagine you are Paul Pogba (above), who having left Manchester United for Juventus for £1.5 million in 2012 (U.S. $1.9 million) and DELIVERED numerous wins and trophies, is headed back to Man U a more developed, complete and expensive footballer. Plus at a record £89 million ($116 million). CEOs, recruiters, marketers, investors, entrepreneurs/founders: remember that. Notice meanwhile under whose management (hint: José Mourinho) Pogba is returning.
How exactly boring is the scintillatingly rare strategic acumen displayed in the video above?
Never believe anyone who tells you strategy is boring, or a Floyd Mayweather Jr., who unlike a Pogba, risks a KO in his sport if too reckless, is “boring”. That's why there are exciting lessons to be learned from Mayweather vs. McGregor.
What makes strategy execution sexy is the team building. The perfect or near perfect nimble pieces in the puzzle coming together with finesse, discipline and perfect timing to outfox the competition or foe. Sometimes with superior culture and tactics. And for businesses especially, startups, nailing the function of marketing as it relates to customer development and strategy execution.
Winning strategists, managers and leaders sweat the details of impact envisioned. The mission to be accomplished guided by the oft-measured and tracked performance culture of the team. For reasons best summed up by legendary management guru, Peter Drucker. Like Pogba or Mayweather, they are nimble enough to approach strategy execution as a QUICK Necessary Adjustments game.
That's what wins customers, championships, converts leads, closes big clients and deals, builds great brands, and in the 21st-Century, keeps China, Russia and North Korea strategically ahead of the U.S.
The headwinds and tailwinds that separate the competent from the incompetent, most valuable brands from just so-so, best from substandard teams, advanced from stagnant economies, and the talking shops from the prolific innovators boil down to two things, in my view: excellent strategic sense and project management acumen. The latter, so important that a link to the definitive guide to being a good project manager has been placed at the end of this article.
Many can probably relate but at least 95% of my own failures — whether working with family, friends or in a business capacity — were a result of poor prioritization, coordination, collaboration, under-utilization of resources; time management, customer management, lack of tactful alignment with jugular aspirations (vision, urgent needs, goals meant to address valid anxieties), etc. We often assume limited people or financial resources is to blame when more than likely, poor execution is the culprit. Same reason I penned the blog: Before Worrying About Goals, Execution & Achievement, Evaluate & FIX The Mindset Within (You), As Well As Your Team's.
For one thing, action and self management (i.e., true self-discipline) is required. Except few ever mention “the whirlwind” or day job). All the “drama” and distraction screaming for your eyeballs; acting on you instead of the other way round. Plus, as below, most tend to confuse Planning and Operations with Strategy. The vision we're trying to act on. That said, people matter most.
Others miss the point altogether and assume specialization in reciting a problem means SOLVING IT. It is all well to delineate strategic priorities — goals directly related to long-term sustainability and survivability — from key priorities that may liberate you from other noise, others' pressing demands and whirlwinds, upon successful completion. You may even hear: well I tried this or that but it didn't work long-term. To which the best entrepreneurs/founders may respond: Ever heard of a pivot?Because even the cheetah giving up its gazelle rather than fight hyenas, or the leopard, baboons, is a pivot. By extension, Personal Leadership* tools we bring to the biggest challenges facing us or the wildest goals and dreams we have must involve the key action principles of the 4 Rules of Execution (hyperlinked below). It's all about lean focus and making the right moves. Something most people lack. Click, tap away, and/or proceed below to master.Good strategy execution is illusive not only because we forget: “There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute” but importantly, for not knowing or practicing these rules:
Focus on WIG (Wildly Important Goals)
Abandon rigidity and be in a position to act on lead measures by first understanding the difference between lag measures and lead measures so as to 'move the needle' when it matters most. This comes from appreciating what is influencable and what is merely predictive. 4DX explains this in depth. See book below or download The Age of Leverage.
Maximum impact can be achieved through passion-driven performance enhanced by sustained commitment. See page 45.
After prioritizing and satisfactorily getting Disciplines 1-3 underway, a system and culture of shared accountability is the only thing that cements success and keeps the team or various key elements in place. Defining things, conducting endless or boring meetings alone won't do. See page 57. Proceed below, and do remember to checkout the previous iteration of this article.