Getting Things Done

Getting things done or “executing” is a kind of grind. It’s not directly exciting or glamorous like a BIG IDEA or a NEW INITIATIVE. It’s not necessarily sexy or the reason why people stand out in meetings (see BIG IDEA).

Perhaps its pedestrian status is the reason getting things done is relatively rare. In any event, getting things done is a skill that can be taught.

If you’ve read, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, then you know one good formula for executing. Our interpretation of the formula goes like this:

  • Know your people and your business–this includes knowing the strengths and shortcomings of your people as well as the opportunities and risks associated with your business.
  • Insist on realism–this means keeping one’s head up and alert. It’s too easy to look at the world through “rose colored glasses” and to ignore critics. Listen to everyone, including employees, customers, potential customers–seek their honest feedback. Remember that people say as much with what they do say as they do with what they don’t say.
  • Identify clear goals and priorities–clear goals are achievable and include the steps that need to be taken along the way to achieving them.
  • Follow-through–who’s responsible, when will a milestone be achieved and what’s the process for reviewing progress? Are these elements clear and is the review frequent enough to stay on top of the progress or lack of it?
  • Reward the doers–intelligently reward behavior that gets things done but don’t over-reward it or ignore the fact that rewarding past behavior should not diminish future desirable behavior.
  • Expand people’s capabilities–invest in your people with training and coaching that helps them meet new challenges.
  • Know yourself–No one person can handle all the complexity of today’s business world. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is the first step of seeking the input of others for their perspective as well as their contributions that best compliment your own.

Like with any formula, the formula for getting things done requires attention to all the ingredients. It’s not a hard formula to follow if you really attend to all the ingredients but that is easier said than done. One suggestion is to make a list of all the ingredients listed above and then ask yourself, once a week, if you are including each in your day-to-day work. Try it, you may be surprised how this little exercise helps you really get things done.

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