From Ideas to Action

“We talk a lot, but little gets done. We have great ideas, but we are slow and inefffective to execute. We have great potential to do and achieve so much more. We have fantastic dreams to impact the world, but they remain just that: dreams.” Maybe you have also felt like this in your personal or work life?

Globally, this is a very common business problem – much to the frustration of many managers and CEO’s. This is commonly referred to as The Execution Gap. Although we do not have to crucify ourselves over this, it would be foolish and sad if you get stuck there.

Part of the challenge is: What among all the good things we can and should do, are now our highest priorities? What should we focus on? Too often we want to chase too many goals simultaneously, and then we do not achieve one of them properly. As Stephen Covey says”The good is often the enemy of the best“. So, clarify first: what is it that you want to get done now? First things first.

Then, the answer to getting your priorities executed is obvious: MANAGEMENT! While leadership helps us focusing on the right things and to motivate people towards that, management helps us to get things done right. So, we need leaders to point us in the right direction, but we definitely need managers to coordinate things (resources and processes) so that we get there. Through management we attempt to effectively turn our RESOURCES (time, finances, raw materials, assets and people) into RESULTS (products, services, goals, impact, or winning a game).

The principles of management have been categorised into the “magic” four major functions popularly known as the P-O-L-C framework: Planning, Organising, Leading, and Controlling. The people (your team) will mostly see you leading and controlling, but often the hard work lies with the less visible: Planning and Organising. By the way, it often helps to involve your team in the planning phase as if you want their input and buy-in.

As I describe the four functions below, ask yourself the following questions: “where do I excel?”, “where do I lack?” and “how can I improve?”.

  • Planning: Clarify your goals and objectives, as well as the methods, processes, resources and people to get there. How long will it take? What are the action steps? (Put them in the right order)
  • Organising: This is where you communicate the plan, delegate and instruct, and make all arrangements so that everything is ready for the task at hand. Make sure everybody is informed and all the resources and tools are organised and ready for action.
  • Leading: Get things (and people) moving into action, and keep everything moving until the mission is accomplished. Be there with and for your people, continuously motivating and coaching them to execute well. Resolve and overcome challenges effectively as they come. If it is only you on the “team”, get yourself into action and keep the plan and goals in mind.
  • Control: Do regular progress checks, monitor quality and cost, and make sure you know where you are in terms of the plan.  As the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets done”. Give feedback to those (“higher” up or “lower” down) who need to be informed. When needed, revise and adapt your plan according to changed needs and circumstances (which is taking you back to the planning phase).

So, there you have it – the key to bridge the execution gap and to get results. Where are you with this? May you keep on improving in all four functions. And may you be the success you are meant to be!