Over the course of my extensive 25-year career working with global companies, I have consistently focused on the fundamental challenge of execution. Many individuals have approached me with the question, “How do we effectively execute?” Through my experience, I have come to realize that execution is simpler than most people think. However, it demands meticulous attention to detail and unwavering discipline. Why do I believe execution is simple? It’s because execution can be broken down into three distinct levels.
Let’s delve into these three levels of execution:
Tactical Execution – refers to the day-to-day operations and tasks that most businesses are fairly good at. It involves implementing specific actions and strategies to achieve short-term goals. This level focuses on the details, the immediate actions required, and the effective management of the resources at hand. It ensures that the necessary tasks are completed efficiently and on time.
Strategic Execution – takes a broader perspective and focuses on the big picture. It involves aligning actions and initiatives with long-term objectives and goals. Strategic execution requires thinking strategically, making informed decisions, and allocating resources strategically to achieve desired outcomes. It involves setting priorities, identifying potential opportunities, and planning for the future.
Organizational Execution – this is the most challenging level as it involves aligning the entire organization towards a shared vision and purpose. It requires creating a culture of collaboration, shared consciousness, and alignment with the future that has been designed. Organizational execution involves breaking down silos, fostering effective communication, and creating an environment where everyone understands their role in achieving collective success. This level ensures that all individuals and teams within the organization are working towards a common goal and making decisions that align with the overall strategy.
While we cannot predict the future with certainty, we can proactively design the future we desire. As leaders, it is our responsibility to guide our teams in aligning their efforts and executing not only as individuals or teams but as an entire enterprise. However, we must acknowledge that this task becomes particularly challenging in VUCA environments.
VUCA, an acronym often used by fighter pilots to describe the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous nature of the present, accurately encapsulates the environments in which our teams must operate. Thriving and winning in such conditions requires simplicity to counteract the overwhelming complexity. Therefore, I would like to introduce a straightforward process to your team—one that can help them navigate these challenging waters. Within this process, a key aspect I would like to emphasize is the value of truth over artificial harmony.
To promote a culture of honesty, I encourage you to incorporate debriefs into your tactical and strategic operations. During these debriefs, it is crucial that team members shed their ranks and titles, allowing for an open and honest exchange of feedback. By openly acknowledging both mistakes and successes immediately after a mission, you create an organizationally safe environment. This environment fosters accelerated execution levels, ensuring that you not only keep pace with the rate of change but stay slightly ahead, ultimately positioning your team for victory.
Of course, I understand that achieving this level of execution is easier said than done, especially in our perpetually task-saturated environments. However, there is one indisputable truth that I have learned as a leader: as task saturation increases, performance decreases. Acknowledging this reality, I aim to equip your team with the mindset of a fighter pilot—a mindset that transcends mere frameworks and becomes an ethos. This mindset will empower your team to navigate task saturation, enabling them to excel in today’s dynamic world.
In conclusion, mastering the art of execution is a simple yet powerful endeavor. By understanding and implementing the three levels of execution—tactical, strategic, and organizational—you can propel your team towards success. Adopting the fighter pilot mindset of resilience and adaptability will empower your team to navigate task saturation and thrive in today’s world. Together, you can forge a path toward unparalleled success in even the most demanding environments.