The Culture of Execution…..Episode #2

Reference my last post on the culture of execution, today I continue my second episode on the subject.

As I mentioned before, one of the interesting parts in the book is where they mentioned real life examples on how lack of execution culture kills the operation. You’ll be amazed to see how big names failed to achieve their targets.

The first example I’ll summarize here is Xerox.  It is mentioned in the book that in 1997 a new COO was hired at Xerox, who was later promoted to CEO in 1999.  What he started by doing is transform Xerox from a products and services company into a solution provider.  So he added the software side along with the hardware side. He did two things that really harmed the organization.  First, he cut down the 90-something administration centers, handling accounting, billing and customer services to only FOUR!

Second, he shifted the focus of all 30,000 salesmen from hardware to solution providing and from geographical focus to industrial focus.

Launching those two big changes together at the same time was as mentioned in the book “Execution error”. He was not directly connected to the people, hence he did not notice that his two new shifts caused:

  1. The loss of orders
  2. Service calls unanswered
  3. Invoices extremely delayed and stacked-up
  4. Sales representatives spent most of their time trying to adapt to the new strategy and clear out the mess caused by reducing the customer service centers.
  5. Morale dropped
  6. Cash flow was extremely affected
  7. Investors began to worry

He did not either make sure that the operation and core process of the organization were strong enough to handle the change, and he did not make sure that he appointed the right people in the right place to execute the change.

This is an obvious example of how lack of the true culture of execution can be harmful.  The good thing is he was fired.  Something that we never hear in Egypt, Firing the CEO! Usually what happens here is decision makers go to the smallest employee in the hierarchy and lay the blame on him for not executing properly.  But what big organizations do is fire the CEO who failed to carry his plans to success.



The Culture of Execution….Episode #1

I am currently reading a book titled:  Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck.


The book is great; it talks about the culture of getting things done “Execution”.  I loved the book because it is very practical and includes real life examples.  It is not like other management books where they speak very theoretical and ask you to follow techniques that can not really be applied in real life.  The way they explained some real life examples and why people failed or succeeded is wonderful. 

I am still reading the book and I will be writing more posts on it as I complete reading.  Today I want to share with you one of the points mentioned:  

They say that a manager or leader can not just simply meet with his staff and discuss goals and tell them to do certain tasks.  You have to assign! i.e. you have to set deadlines and distribute responsibilities.  Someone has to take charge of the task you are assigning so that you can get back to him when things go wrong. And this is not enough either, you have to get involved. You have to know what is going on.  If you do not get involved and help out when needed, you will wait until the deadline comes and discover a disaster.  Being a manager does not mean to be out of the picture or do not know what your staff is doing.  You have to make sure they are on the right track.  This is the execution culture, to know how to get things done.  Not just boss around and order your staff and then not to know anything about real life execution and the possible obstacles. 

Larry Bossidy said something very wise in the book: “Many people regard execution as detail work that is beneath the dignity of a business leader. That is wrong, to the contrary, it is a leader’s most important job.” 

We have this defect in Egypt.  Most managers think they are too important to get involved in the execution.  They pretend to be busy all the time and their staff can not meet with them to discuss their daily challenges.  This does not mean of course that a manager will leave his responsibilities to do the work himself, but he has to be the coach.  And to be the coach you have to know what is going on to be able to lead.

In my coming posts I will mention some of the real life examples they included in the book and will continue highlighting the important points they mentioned to clarify how we can have the culture of execution…….so stay tuned!