MT Masterclass - Execution

What is it? Don't get the wrong idea. This subject has nothing to do with gruesome killing. Execution is the catch-all heading to describe the business of actually getting things done. Executives are supposed to be good at it (note their job title). It's all very well having a cunning plan, like Blackadder's Baldrick, but can you put it into action? Do you have the people ready and able to execute your grand designs? Execution doesn't happen in the boardroom but in the front line, in the office, and whenever you meet a customer.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Where did it come from? In 2002, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan published Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Inspired by the experiences of a long career at GE and AlliedSignal/ Honeywell, Bossidy declared that he knew the fundamental reason why plans worked, or didn't. Faulty execution explained the gap between aspirations and results. 'Strategies most often fail because they aren't executed well,' the authors wrote. 'Things that are supposed to happen don't happen.' After the dot.com boom and bust, it was refreshing to hear business people talk in stark and realistic terms about the basic facts of business life. Bossidy and Charan's follow-up book is called Confronting Reality.

Where's it going? Everyone loves execution. Even Stephen Covey, the 'seven habits' guru, is a convert. 'Execution is the great unaddressed issue in most organisations today,' he says. In sober, serious times, doers rather than thinkers are in demand. Sales, performance and market share beat fine ideas about culture, fun and informality. And, as so often happens under this Government, the business concept of execution has entered political debate - but here it's called 'delivery'. In the future, the survival of CEOs and prime ministers will depend not on charisma, but on ability to execute.

Fad quotient (out of 10): Nine (and rising).

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