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Book Review

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

“Some people think of execution as the tactical side of business, something leaders delegate while they focus on the perceived bigger issues. This idea is completely wrong. Execution is not just tactics—it is a discipline and a system.”

The debate continues…what makes a good leader. And this book attempts to answer this question by reshaping the role of the leader. Is this thesis statement giving testament to a swing in the pendulum? Maybe so. For years we’ve read about how important the strategic vision of our leaders is to our ultimate success…that how the vision is communicated to the rest of the organization is just as important to our ultimate success. We’ve learned how to set courses, carve a path, build a map, and lead with passion, but has it been at the expense of learning how to actually “do?

“Execution is not just something that does or doesn’t get done. Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that companies need to master in order to have competitive advantage. It is a discipline of its own.

According to Ram Charan, “Typically, the CEO and his senior leadership team allot less than half a day each year to review the plans—people, strategy, and operation. Typically too the reviews are not particularly interactive…they don’t debate and as a result, don’t get much useful outcome. People leave with no commitments to the action plans they’ve helped create. This is a formula for failure. You need robust dialogue to surface the realities of business. You need accountability for results to get things done…and you need follow-through to ensure the plans are on track.”

For most of us (since we’re not all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies), a great many of the anecdotes and examples will be difficult to relate to, but the overarching principles are certainly something that each of us can examine and integrate into our own work philosophies. This book will certainly provide you with some new ways of looking at the workplace. Where before we looked to strategy to shape the plan, and the plan to shape the implementation thereof, now we are asked to examine how the execution of the plan shapes the strategy…and rightfully so.