The Secret To Quick Execution

Over the years I’ve marveled at the speed at which some organzations are able to go from concept to in-market execution…and those who can’t seem to get out of there own way.

Dell, for example can “turn the ship on a dime”…changing promotions, campaigns, and the sales compensation plan for telesales reps within a day or two in order drive greater revenue or profitability based on quarterly performance projections. Other companies struggle for years to get a campaign or product out the door.

So why does this happen and what are the keys to quick execution? Beyond corporate culture, which is a major contributor to the ability to execute, there seems to be four essential elements that I like to refer to as the CRAP Process:

  • Create – one of the things that I’ve noticed over the years is how efforts can stall or be delayed at the starting point. Getting past the starting gate is typically the hardest and most difficult point in the process. Anxiety builds, expectations are high, everyone is looking for the “big idea”…it all adds up to a huge speed bump slowing the creative process. Lower expectations by getting something-anything into a first draft, no matter how ugly right after the initial discussion or at some point on the first day.
  • Refine – after you have the draft, send it around for comment, refining the concept as it goes from person to person. The chain is email and the document is in word; it’s important to use the edit feature. It’s like a game of “hot potato” – you only get so much time to hold onto the email and then you need to through it to someone else.
  • Act – the most important point in the process is getting it 70% completed and then get it into the market and/or to a customer and let the market/customer complete the other 30%. Define the “70%” mark early in the process so you know how far to go. Give the team an expectation on the timing (within 3 weeks, etc.) to be in market.
  • Perfect – yes, perfect the product or campaign after it is in market. Sounds counter intutive, right, but companies do it all the time…Microsoft comes to mind immediately. The key is setting the expectation on peformance before you launch. Define performance at each stage of the process so that you know what to go back and refine/fix. Too many companies get caught up in trying to create something “perfect” internally without customers or market input. The age of what I like to call the “Incremental Perfectionist” is upon us.

You’ll also need to build your teams around this concept. You need to identify the skills sets and personailities of your team and designate a couple of “starters” (the creative types), the “refiners”(usually specialists – product, industry, etc.), and the “perfectors” (anal types who love the detail). You may find that this approach trumps any typically”Org Chart” approach in creating a high performance team.

The other important thing to remember is if you are afraid that someone is going to scream about a mistake or poor performance then you don’t have enough going on inside your organization. The key is to have lots of activities at various stages of execution, if some fail, folks may not notice because high performing (Perfected Stage) programs will give you air cover to refine the underperformers.

As someone at IBM once said; “if you are going to fail…fail fast”. The real key is go fast at every stage, the best companies learn more from failure than success…they also know how to get CRAP done.