When companies are small, it’s not such a challenge to get things done. Maybe you have a meeting (where the whole company attends), you come up with an idea, and you go out there and do it. Everyone was there from the beginning, everyone understands the plan, and everyone does their part to get it done. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges with execution for small companies, but typically, if small companies do a good job hiring the right people, figuring out their strategy, and ensuring there is enough cash to run the business, then execution is something that can easily be managed. However, as your company grows and the people who come up with the ideas and plans are no longer the ones who are actually doing all the work, successfully executing the plan gets much more difficult.
As you scale up your business, you need to scale up your execution. For most companies, that means you need skills and systems in place to ensure the most important work gets done. Business growth guru Verne Harnish offers three questions in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0: Scaling Up to help you diagnose potential execution issues in your company.
Download the free One Page Strategic Plan Template or OPSP Template to help power your Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up.
Three Questions to Assess Execution Issues
- Is there excessive drama in the company?
- Is everyone working longer and harder, but that's in large part due to rework that’s not getting you anywhere?
- Is the company generating less than 3x industry average profitability?
If these questions ring true for you, it is time to upgrade your execution engine to help you continue to grow. Verne offers “10 fundamental habits that support the successful execution of your strategy” in his Rockefeller Habits Checklist (download here).
10 Essential Execution Habits with Helpful Resources
1. Align the Exec Team.
This one is all about getting healthy and on the same page as an executive team first. As they say, "The bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle." In order to get the entire team aligned, the executive team needs to be aligned. One of the greatest ways to do that is to develop a comprehensive One Page Strategic Plan - OPSP.
- The CEO’s Roadmap to Organization Alignment Bliss
- 5 Patterns of Executive Team Success
- 5 Insights You’ll Gain from Executive Coaching
2. Each quarter, determine and focus on the #1 thing that must get done—and align the entire company around it.
Quarterly planning is key to successful execution. Many companies only plan annually. However, without a quarterly plan and theme, you miss the opportunity to be agile and respond to the changing environment and to achieve absolute focus on the most important thing to achieve in the next thirteen weeks.
- Best Practices for Quarterly Planning
- How to Use You Main Thing to Engage Your Team (Video)
- How to Choose the Right Priorities to Have a Winning Quarter
3. Establish an effective meeting rhythm for communication and collaboration.
Meetings get a bad reputation as unproductive. However, without the right cadence of meetings, you won’t be able to effectively share timely information and solve problems as a team.
- Daily Huddle Template and Examples from Real Companies Just Like Yours
- How to Run Effective Weekly Staff Meetings with Team Meeting Agenda
- Align Your Leaders and Engage Your Employees with Monthly Meetings
4. Ensure all key functions, processes, results, and strategic initiatives have one clear, accountable owner.
Teams that lack accountability will inevitably struggle to achieve peak performance and execute plans successfully. Role and goal clarity are essential elements. It stands to reason that if no one owns it, it won’t get done.
- The Five C’s of Team Accountability
- 10 Signs of an Accountable Culture (Infographic)
- 2 Simple Tools to Achieve Role and Goal Clarity
5. Gather input from employees on an ongoing basis to uncover obstacles and opportunities.
As your company grows, your employees are closer to the customer. They have insights and information that can be invaluable as you make decisions on the direction of your company. If your employees know their feedback matters to company leaders, they will be more engaged in their work. Be intentional about collecting, sharing, and taking action on their feedback.
- Why Should We Discuss Client and Employee Feedback at Our Weekly Meetings?
- What Should You Start, Stop, and Keep Doing in the Next 90 Days?
- Enhance Employee Engagement and Motivate for Success
6. Report and analyze customer feedback on a weekly basis.
Without happy customers who are willing to refer you, you don’t have much. Seek out customer interactions, listen to the voice of your customer, and consider customer input when designing products and services and making strategic decisions.
- Hold Each Other Accountable to Deliver Great Customer Service
- The Unhappy Customer
- How Do Your Customers Really Feel? (Infographic)
7. Bring the company’s Core Values and Core Purpose to life.
It can be tempting to put a poster on the wall and call it a day, but Core Values and Purpose form the foundation of your company culture and should be evident in all aspects of your organization: hiring and firing decisions, on-boarding new team members, providing performance feedback, integrating an acquisition, and making decisions—big and small.
- 8 Ways to Manage Using Your Core Values (Video)
- Use Storytelling to Bring Your Core Purpose to Life
- Focus on Your Core: Checklist for Strategy Success
8. Employees understand key elements of the company’s strategy—BHAG, Core Customer, and Brand Promise.
Your team needs to have a big picture vision of where your company is going, who you sell to, and what differentiates you in the marketplace. Being able to articulate your company’s strategy will help them make the right decisions without having to be micromanaged.
- Classic BHAG Examples
- 3 Steps to Identify Your Core Customer [Infographic]
- Brand Promise: How to Build a Great One
9. Everyone is clear on their Rockefeller Rocks (Priorities) and KPIs and knows how they are doing each week.
Give the gift of clarity to each person in your company by asking them to report weekly on 1 or 2 KPIs that define success for their role and a handful of Priorities that are aligned to your Company’s quarterly plan. This way, they always know how they are doing and that they are working on the right things.
- 5 Simple Steps to Create Useful KPIs (Video)
- Goal Setting 101: How to Write An Effective Priority (Infographic)
- Using Priorities to Completely Align Your Organization (Infographic)
10. Plans and performance are visible and shared.
Verne recommends “scoreboards everywhere,” and we advocate for visible dashboards that are cascaded throughout the organization. Being able to see your goals and your progress enables you to pinpoint execution problems and make adjustments quickly, before it’s too late.
- 4 Tips to Use Dashboards Well for Stronger Execution
- The Value of Cascade Planning
- Lack of Visibility - You Can’t Solve What You Can’t See
In addition to all the resources offered above, we’ve found that it takes more than new habits and skills to be successful as your company grows. While small companies might be able to pull off execution excellence with a spreadsheet and some emails, they will quickly outgrow these tools the larger and more complex they become. At Rhythm Systems, we have an ideal software solution for implementing each of the Rockefeller Habits and methodology. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.