The Challenge of Execution – II The Art and Science of Execution

Basic principles of getting things done.

Much has been said and written about vision and strategy in management literature. But inspired visions and brilliant strategies fail to produce results because they are not aligned with a framework of disciplined execution. As Larry Bossidy and Ramcharan in their excellent book on Execution point out: “Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes”. Interestingly, Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram looking at it from a spiritual perspective, said: “The important thing is execution which has to be carried out without losing sight of the ideal we want to realize”.

Execution is at once an art and a science; it is a science because it is based on some universal principles; it is also an art because dynamic execution in a changing world requires intuition. However, execution is not a rocket science. The basic principles of execution are simple, universal and timeless. They are in simple words: set your goals; figure out how to reach those goals; evolve operating systems for setting the ball rolling from the domain of goal or ideas into the sphere of actions; choose people who can get things done and reward them for it; and finally, monitor the results. These are the basic building blocks of effective execution. In a more systematic perspective, executive excellence in a changing world involves the following tasks:

1. Shaping goals, which require clarity on goals.
2. Charting the path, which is the essence of strategy.
3. Steering Implementation, which is the process of operations management.
4. Managing Change, which requires successful coping with the changing environment.
5. Engaging people, which means choosing, empowering and rewarding people who can get things done.

Courtesy : VILAKSHAN, XIMB Journal of Management

M.S. Srinivasan

The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

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