Many Fail To Plan, More Fail To Execute!

As the owner, CEO or senior executive of a business, you share many things in common with the coaches of professional sports teams. Can you imagine the head coach of a team – say in the National Football League – going into a game without a game plan? Of course not! That coach would soon be out of work. Coaches literally spend hundreds hours preparing for a 60-minute event.

A good coach not only develops and documents a strategy to win; he makes sure it’s understood by every player on the team. Every successful coach knows that a plan is essential for success.

But every successful coach also knows that a plan alone is not sufficient for success. The best plan in the world is useless if it’s not implemented. When the whistle blows to start the game, the players can’t simply stand on the sidelines and talk about what a great plan they have. They must take the field and play to win.

A coach that doesn’t learn from failures and make adjustments so that his team consistently wins soon finds out what the letters NFL really mean: Not For Long.

Why should you view your business as any different?

Your Role As An Executive Is To Execute!

It never ceases to amaze me – I’ll work with a company for weeks to develop a comprehensive strategic plan, and then nothing! Nada! It’s as if management says, “OK, now that we’ve finished the plan, we can check that off our list and get back to business as usual.”

They know they have issues that need to be changed. They pay good money to hire outside assistance to facilitate a planning process. They complete their plan. Then they proceed to ignore it!

Why? Is it fear of change? Fear of making a mistake? Fear of confronting people? A lack of confidence in themselves and/or their staff? Probably it’s a mixture of some or all of these.

For most executives, implementation is harder than planning. It takes determination and courage to actually do what you say you want to do. Implementation requires commitment, accountability, and change. That’s where the majority of companies fail.

Bold Actions Require Bold Leadership.

The absence of a decision is a de facto decision. That goes for all aspects of business planning and execution – from acknowledging problems to resolving them.

Tolerating poor personal performance from a staff member is choosing mediocrity. It lowers the bar for the entire staff.

Failing to take action about substandard quality is a decision about quality. It sends a message about core values to everyone in the organization.

It’s wise to gather the facts before making decisions. But postponing action “until there’s a better time” or “until there’s more data” is too often a cover-up for plain old fear to act.

Want to diminish focus and credibility in your organization? Here’s a sure-fire way: Develop a plan, communicate it to your people, and then fail to execute it.

When you fail to act on your plans, you undermine motivation, enthusiasm, pride, respect, commitment, and productivity. Yet 90 percent of American companies do just that, as shown by the chart below.

Talk about an alarming statistic! If only 10 percent of American companies take the necessary actions to implement their plans, no wonder we’re losing our edge.

Many executives confuse busyness with effectiveness. They think they’re accomplishing a lot when people come to them all day long with questions and problems. It makes them feel important. They like being the center of the storm.

But executives who react instead of act accomplish little. They don’t produce progress because they’re concentrating on the minutia and ignoring the momentous. They’re playing around instead of playing to win.

But remember that your employees are watching your actions. They’ll respond to your leadership based on how you execute your plan.

To help you maintain your focus on decisive action, here are four principles for you to periodically review:

  • If the status quo isn’t working, change it.

  • If you don’t make a decision, you’re making a decision.

  • If you don’t like making tough decisions, you’re not alone. But winners do it anyway.

  • If you want to exercise real leadership, you must act.

You have to “walk the talk” every single day to attain excellence in any organization. You must take the field and play to win!

“Action without vision is a nightmare. Vision without action is a daydream.” — Japanese proverb

Copyright ?? 2010 Martin Harshberger

— Martin Harshberger is Managing Partner of Measurable Results LLC. Marty specializes in strategic planning, pre- and post-merger integration, as well as business process improvement. He can be reached at 662-844-9088 or by email at: His new book Bottom Line Focus is available on Amazon and his website:

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