Vision Without Execution is Hallucination

Factors to Close the Execution Gap

Thomas Edison’s quote, uttered more than 100 years ago, rings true across organizations of all sizes in the year 2013. In fact, in a wobbly economy where entrepreneurial activity is on the rise, execution is even more critical for success and survival.

There was a time when strategic planning was a leader’s primary focus and concern. That is no longer the case, strategic planning is important, but as a sole focus of leadership it’s a luxury.  In the start-up realm the analogy would be a founder fixated on creating the perfect business plan but finding themselves crippled when it comes to turning that plan into action. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different skils sets that leadership must possess in order to take an idea from concept to reality.

In the current business climate, a well-implemented mediocre idea is far better than a great idea that can’t get off the ground. A great idea is a starting point—execution is what differentiates a winner from a loser creating barriers to entry and long-term viability.

So, what can start-up or even growth stage companies do to support execution? Here are five thoughts based on what I’ve personally observed in more than 15 start-ups during my career.
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Leadership Lessons from “The Godfather”

Seriously, how could I refuse?  In an April 2, 2012 article in Fast Company by Lydia Dishman, some sage advice is shared with executives in growth organizations on the merits of leadership Mafia style.

1.     Build a Powerful Community

Whether it’s your friendly funeral home director or doing a favor for a new LinkedIn connection, it is true that helping your peers will benefit your business in the long run.  We are all short on time but one good turn deserves another and builds a “goodwill” account that can come in handy when facing your next financing, looking for a top notch sales person or addressing management struggles. I prefer to not keep a ledger on this sort of thing but your network will be much faster to respond when you’ve been responsive to them.

2.     Hold People Accountable

Showing weakness leads to assassination. Ok, that’s a bit severe but in business or life, there are moments where bravery is a requirement and the path of least resistance is a killer.  A wise person told me once, hire slow and fire quickly.  FTE’s are a huge investment and a weak link in any area of a growth organization is like a cancer that causes far more damage than meets the eye.  I’m a big fan of ripping a band-aid off quickly, whether it’s a bad consultant or employee, don’t wait the cost is more than you can imagine. Continue reading



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