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Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Disciplines like strategy, leadership development, and innovation are the sexier aspects of being at the helm of a successful business; actually getting things done never seems quite as glamorous. But as Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan demonstrate in Execution, the ultimate difference between a company and its competitor is, in fact, the ability to execute.

Execution is "the missing link between aspirations and results," and as such, making it happen is the business leader's most important job. While failure in today's business environment is often attributed to other causes, Bossidy and Charan argue that the biggest obstacle to success is the absence of execution. They point out that without execution, breakthrough thinking on managing change breaks down, and they emphasize the fact that execution is a discipline to learn, not merely the tactical side of business. Supporting this with stories of the "execution difference" being won (EDS) and lost (Xerox and Lucent), the authors describe the building blocks--leaders with the right behaviors, a culture that rewards execution, and a reliable system for having the right people in the right jobs--that need to be in place to manage the three core business processes of people, strategy, and operations. Both Bossidy, CEO of Honeywell International, Inc., and Charan, advisor to corporate executives and author of such books as What the CEO Wants You to Know and Boards That Work, present experience-tested insight into how the smooth linking of these three processes can differentiate one company from the rest. Developing the discipline of execution isn't made out to be simple, nor is this book a quick, easy read. Bossidy and Charan do, however, offer good advice on a neglected topic, making Execution a smart business leader's guide to enacting success rather than permitting demise. --S. Ketchum

From Library Journal

Bossidy, an award-winning executive at General Electric and Allied Signal, came out of retirement to tend to Honeywell (and bring it back to prominence) after it failed to merge with General Electric. Charan has taught at Harvard and Kellogg Business Schools. Collaborating with editor and writer Burck, they present the viewpoint that execution (that is, linking a company's people, strategy, and operations) is what will determine success in today's business world. Bossidy and Charan aver that execution is a discipline integral to strategy, that it is the major job of any business leader hoping not just to be a success but to dominate a market, and that it is a core element of corporate culture. Details of both successful and unsuccessful executions at corporations such as Dell, Johnson & Johnson, and Xerox, to name a few, support not only their how-to method for bringing execution to the forefront but also the need for it. Each author addresses specific topics in paragraphs that begin with either "Larry" or "Ram," and this easy style adds to the appeal of a very readable book. Recommended for academic and public libraries.

Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia

Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Execution Contents

  • Execution "a definition"
  • Contents
  • Introduction
    • Execution is not only the biggest issue facing business today; it is something nobody has explained satisfactorily
    • Overview
  • Why Execution Is Needed
    • The Gap Nobody Knows
      • Execution Comes Of Age
        • Execution Is a Discipline
        • Execution Is the Job of the Business Leader
        • Execution Has to Be in the Culture
      • Why People Don't Get It
    • The Execution Difference
      • The Trouble With Joe
      • The Execution Gap At Xerox
      • Out Of Touch At Lucent
      • Executing At EDS
      • Summary
  • The Building Blocks Of Execution
    • Building Block One: The Leader's Seven Essential Behaviors
      • Know Your People And Your Business
      • Insist On Realism
      • Set Clear Goals And Priorities
      • Follow Through
      • Reward The Doers
      • Expand People's Capabilities Through Coaching
      • Know Yourself
      • Emotional fortitude
        • Authenticity
        • Self-Awareness
        • Self-Mastery
        • Humility
    • Building Block Two: Creating the Framework for Cultural Change
      • Operationalizing Culture
        • Old EDS Beliefs
        • New EDS Beliefs
      • Linking Rewards To Performance
      • The Social Software Of Execution
      • The Importance Of Robust Dialogue
      • Leaders Get The Behavior They Exhibit And Tolerate
    • Building Block Three: The Job No Leader Should Delegate-Having the Right People in the Right Place
      • Why The Right People Aren't In The Right Jobs
        • Lack of Knowledge
        • Lack of Courage
        • The Psychological Comfort Factor
        • Bottom Line: Lack of Personal Commitment
      • What Kind Of People Are You Looking For?
        • They Energize People
        • They're Decisive on Tough Issues
        • They Get Things Done Through Others
        • They Follow Through
      • How To Get The Right People In The Right Jobs
      • The Unvarnished Truth
  • The Three Core Processes Of Execution
    • The People Process: Making the Link with Strategy and Operations
      • Building Block One: Linking People To Strategy And Operations
      • Building Block Two: Developing The Leadership Pipeline Through ...
        • The Leadership Assessment Summary
        • The Continuous Improvement Summary
        • Succession Depth And Retention Risk Analysis
      • Talent Review At Honeywell
      • Building Block Three: Dealing With Nonperformers
      • Building Block Four: Linking HR To Business Results
      • Candid Dialogue: The "Live Ammo"
    • The Strategy Process: Making the Link with People and Operations
      • The Importance Of The Hows
      • The Building Blocks Of A Strategy
      • Building The Strategic Plan
        • Who Builds the Plan?
      • Questions For A Strategic Plan
        • What Is the Assessment of the External Environment?
        • How Well Do You Understand the Existing Customers and Markets?
        • What Is the Best Way to Grow the Business Profitably, and What Are the Obstacles to Growth?
        • Who Is the Competition?
        • Can the Business Execute the Strategy?
        • What Are the Important Milestones for Executing the Plan?
        • Are the Short Term and the Long Term Balanced?
        • What Are the Critical Issues Facing the Business?
        • How Will the Business Make Money on a Sustainable Basis?
    • How to Conduct a Strategy Review
      • Questions To Raise At A Strategy Review
        • How Well Versed Is Each Business Unit Team About the Competition?
        • How Strong Is the Organizational Capability to Execute the Strategy?
        • Is the Plan Scattered or Sharply Focused?
        • Are We Choosing the Right Ideas?
        • Are the Linkages with People and Operations Clear?
      • Following Through
    • The Operations Process: Making the Link with Strategy and People
      • How To Build A Budget In Three Days
      • The Importance Of Synchronization
      • Sound Assumptions: The Key To Setting Realistic Goals
      • Building The Operating Plan
      • The Art Of Making Trade-Offs
      • Outcomes Of The Operations Process
      • After The Meeting: Follow-Through And Contingencies
        • Contingency Plans
        • Quarterly Reviews
      • Goals To Live By
  • Conclusion: Letter To A New Leader



“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




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