Once upon a time strategy was king. Leaders immersed themselves in the matter of planning how best to achieve their company's goals. The subject dominated the attention of senior executives and the writings of consultants and management gurus. Experts of various stripes weighed in on how to put strategic planning processes in place and transform employees at all levels into strategic thinkers.
Naturally, leaders assumed all this strategizing would pay off. And yet, for too many organizations the promised results never came to pass.
Quite simply, they couldn't execute.
Now, the business world has shifted its focus to the consistent delivery of results. If an organization can't execute its plans and initiatives, nothing else matters: not the most solid, well thought-out strategy, not the most innovative business model, not even technological breakthroughs that could transform an industry.
As it turns out, the "conventional wisdom" about what it takes to implement strategy and deliver results isn't all that wise. So what really differentiates the companies that are able to get things done day-to-day and deliver consistent results? The answer is found in the pages of Richard Lepsinger's ground-breaking book, Closing the Execution Gap.
Based on extensive research and years of practical experience, the book outlines five prerequisites for effective execution and five "Bridges" that differentiate companies that do it best. It also describes six "Bridge Builders" leaders at all levels can use to close the execution gap in their company or team and help people get things done. Specifically, it addresses: - What really gets in the way of getting things done?for individuals, teams and entire companies - What leaders can do to enhance their organization's ability to close the execution gap and achieve solid business results - What it takes to consistently execute plans and initiatives at a day-to-day operational level
The book features many case studies of companies that have a track record of effective execution (Hewlett-Packard, Costco, Procter & Gamble) and those who have struggled with closing the gap between creating a vision and delivering results (Dell, American Airlines, GM).
As the business world becomes more competitive and less forgiving, execution matters more than ever. This is a book for the times we live in?and one that for many companies could mean the difference between success and failure.
List of Figures, Tables, and Exhibits ix
About the Author xv
Chapter One: Vision Without Execution is Hallucination 1
Yes, There is an Execution Gap - But That’s Only the Tip of the Iceberg! 3
‘‘Conventional Wisdom’’: Maybe Not So Wise! 5
The Five Bridges: Gap-Closers That Make the Difference 8
The Bottom Line 22
Chapter Two: Bridge Builder 1: Translate Strategy into Action 25
First Things First: A Brief Look at Strategic Planning 26
Vision and Standards of Excellence 34
Aligning Projects and Programs with Strategy 38
Action Planning: An Execution Essential 43
The Bottom Line 48
Chapter Three: Bridge Builder 2: Expect Top Performance 51
The Pygmalion Effect: Proof That Expectations Drive Performance 51
Breaking the Cycle 56
The Bottom Line 71
Chapter Four: Bridge Builder 3: Hold People Accountable 73
What is Accountability Anyway? 75
Why We Should Hold People Accountable - and Why We Don’t 78
Assessing Accountability: The Four Levels 82
Why We Make Excuses 86
Accountability Boosters: Managing Accountability in Others 91
The Bottom Line 97
Chapter Five: Bridge Builder 4: Involve the Right People in Making the Right Decisions 99
Beyond the Buzzword: What ‘‘Empowerment’’ Really Means 100
Brain Basics: How Cognitive Systems Impact Judgment and Decision Making 104
So How Can We Make Better Decisions? 111
The Bottom Line 130
Chapter Six: Bridge Builder 5: Facilitate Change Readiness 133
What Top-Performing Companies Do 134
Kicking Old Habits: What Addicts Can Teach Us About Change 141
The Five Levels of Change Readiness 142
Moving on Up: Facilitating Change with Level-Appropriate Strategies 145
Holding Up the Mirror: Understanding the Impact of Leader Behavior 154
The Importance of Change Talk 156
The Bottom Line 165
Chapter Seven: Bridge Builder 6: Increase Coordination and Cooperation 167
Cooperating Versus Competing: The Human Struggle 167
Encouraging and Sustaining Cooperation 172
Disagreement Happens: How to Gain Support and Resolve Conflict 180
The Bottom Line 203
Conclusion: Five Lessons for Leaders 205
Lesson 1: Integrate the Leader and Manager Roles 205
Lesson 2: Clarify Assumptions and Priorities 206
Lesson 3: Make Sure the Right Systems Are in Place 206
Lesson 4: Coordinate and Monitor High-Impact Actions 207
Lesson 5: Get Change Management Right 207
The Bottom Line 208
Appendix: Criteria for Identifying Top-Performing and Less-Successful Companies 211