I really enjoyed this book for the simple reason that it addresses an issue which could very well be the decisive factor for any organization in pursuit of success—an illusive target in today’s chaotic environment.
The author, Gary Harpst, is right on target with his sub-title: “Solving the One Business Problem That Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier.” Let’s identify that one business problem right up front—execution.
Much of this book is everyday common sense that we’ve been hearing for years. The author has re-framed basic knowledge that is anything but new to today’s business leaders. His approach is appropriate because this priceless knowledge has also been avoided like the plague for just as long.
This point is illustrated by some convincing observations the author derived from other experts:
- An astounding 90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.
- Only 5% of employees understand their corporate strategy.
- Only 3% of executives think their company is very successful at executing its strategies, while 62% think they’re only moderately successful, or worse.
- More than 671,000 new businesses open each year, and every year nearly 544,800 businesses close down.
This book is built on three core premises.
- What most business leaders think their greatest challenge is, isn’t. And whatever their problems are today, they’ll be different tomorrow, and they will be bigger too.
- There is one business problem that, if solved, will make solving all other problems easier. This foundational challenge is executing strategy.
- An execution system helps organizations get the right things done by identifying execution problems as early as possible and addressing the problems.
Harpst introduces his Business Excellence Model to explain that the focus and capability of an organization can be understood in two dimensions: strategy (deciding what to do) and execution (getting it done). Coupled with four quadrants of performance, the author explores the topic of excellence and how we can go about pursuing it.
In this book, the author sets a new course for how small and mid-sized businesses can finally confront the never-ending challenge of executing strategy. It centers on a methodology designed to guide you through actionable steps to become better at execution within the business, with the goal of taking your business to the next level. Just as his first book focused on Six Disciplines, Harpst has focused Execution Revolution on a six-phase system to address problems with execution:
- Decide what’s important (Strategy).
- Set goals that lead (Plan).
- Align systems (Organize).
- Work the plan (Execute).
- Innovate purposefully (Innovate).
- Step back (Learn).
- And the whole thing repeats.
The challenge is simple. How do we close the ever-challenging “knowing-doing gap”? This book will provide a formula to help you assemble a strategy and keep on task with that strategy. With execution of any strategy, losing focus is the main issue. This will keep you on track, and focused.
(This book review was originally published in 2009 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 20.)