Execute to Deliver

Management today is largely about making things happen – which includes anticipating and taking advantage of change wherever it occurs – e.g., changing consumer tastes, changing technologies, changing competitive environments, changing internal dynamics. It is important to have institutional mechanisms and practices that can help you anticipate change and to be ready when the change occurs.

Execution is also about making the right things happen – and that is about leadership. A leader is not unlike a chef who cooks a meal. Consider a situation where a chef and I shop at the same grocery or farmers’ market. We both buy the same ingredients: lettuce, celery, onions, tomatoes, lemons, chicken breast, bacon, cheese, etc. When we get back to our kitchens, the chef and I are free to follow our own taste in what we cook. I can assure you that even with exactly the same ingredients, the meal that I prepare will be very different from what the chef creates. The leader of an organization makes a difference in what is achieved – just as different chefs working with the same ingredients will produce different outcomes. Success is not about the ingredients or the technology, it is about how a team executes with those basic ingredients. In the media-comms space where I have worked, everyone has DSL, 3G, LTE, fiber-optics, and related technologies. Execution is about results and the ability to execute to good results will reflect the vision, knowledge, leadership skills, and temperament of the leader – whether it is the CEO or the project leader.

Examples of executing to deliver include:

  • At USWEST, Orange and Telstra we used real-time market-based management to segment and serve discrete markets segments with products and services tailored to particular needs of each segment.
  • At Telstra we established a product development unit led by a senior executive to increase our speed-to-market ability.
  • At Orange and Telstra we reformed procurement processes to achieve more responsive relationships, better prices, and faster turnaround.
  • At US West, Orange, and Telstra we were first-to-market in many areas – including TV over copper wires, digital directories, DSL deployment (US West), smart phones (Orange), and a world-leading, nationwide, high-speed mobile Internet (Telstra).