I have wanted to write about execution for some time now, but have been looking for the right hook, connection, link or story. The book, It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Do: How Following Through at Every Level Can Make or Break Your Company by Laurence Haughton has been on the top of my "must read" stack since before my vacation. I cracked it open this weekend and there it was – execution!
You can see a spot on, detailed review at Slacker Manager here.
So many companies and managers take their eye off the execution ball in search of the sexier and more interesting new strategies. We all know that it is much more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep current customers, but do our operations, sales, and marketing activities reflect this? Here’s a nice quote from the book that says it well:
"You can’t stop people from being curious or keep your competitors from dangling a carrot. But you can stop all the dropped balls and unforced errors that disappoint your good customers (or key employees and best investors), any of which become the straw that breaks the back of a long-term, profitable customer relationship."
Yes, the power of focusing on executing on the product or service at or above expectations!
This book covers a lot of ground: expectations, the right people, accountability, and buy in. I like the way Laurence offers many clear examples and states the obvious in ways that actually might get through to our thick heads!
This book is both pragmatic and results oriented while hitting on the best management beliefs and practices. Many of the examples are real enough that the reader can get a good sense for how to apply the suggestions.
Oh, and I love that Laurence talks about Shakespeare and the battle of Agincourt speech (this is something I have used in leadership and management training many times). You should watch the movie (Kenneth Branagh) if you have not. And my favorite quote of all time comes from this speech:
"All things are ready if our minds be so."
When I think about managers who have succeeded and those who have failed, the difference is often that one followed through and executed and the other did not. Execution really matters and as a manager it is your most valuable currency in the organization. Middle managers who get the job done and well do not need to worry about being rightsized or downsized. When we add value, we have more fun at work and we enjoy more opportunity.
If you are a manager or leader, It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Do is a good book to have on your shelf to refer to again and again.