Thinking on Execution

I read a lot, one the most recent books is The 4 Disciplines of Execution which is, of course, about execution. The first few chapters are the most valuable, some really good thoughts on measuring execution, in particular about lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators measure what has happened – say product sales – and leading indicators are the things you do/measure that will impact your lagging indicators – sales calls for example.

That was a learning moment for me. It’s not easy to decide which of a lot of metrics you care most about when you’re building your dashboard/scorecard, and picking the right ones does matter. A lot. But that is half-baked if you can’t include the leading measure that will drive you to your big goals. Measure, heck, you have to know what that leading action is!

Here’s a practical example. Let’s say you want to increase attendance at your local SQLSaturday. You can measure registrations, get the daily report and see how you’re doing. But what are you doing today that you can measure today that will push your registrations up when you review the report tomorrow?

Execution is job one for executives. An executive who can’t get it done is soon gone. Hard to think why it isn’t that way all the way down the line, but it rarely is. But back to the executive and executing, too often it seems to me it becomes a situation where the only things that matters is executing.

I get that without execution there is no step two. No building that great company,supporting local and social causes,changing the world, and all the little things that make those happen. I just think that we don’t see them striving for more than step one.

Building a culture of execution isn’t hard. Get it done or be gone. Building a culture of execution that allows failure and rewards risk, that is something else again. Two different views of how the world should be – which one do you prefer?