Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Execution Is More Than A Bullet In PowerPoint

If it's in a PowerPoint presentation, then it must be true. If it's a strategy or action point, then count on it being executed!

As ridiculous as those statements sound, I work with many people and organizations whose behavior would indicate they believe it to be true. Too often, it seems the PowerPoint presentation is an end in itself. Months later, in reviews, when I ask, what's been done on an action item, I get blank stares.

Strategy development and execution is tough. All of us know that it cannot be reduced to a series of bullet points. To be effective, it requires a deep dive---it requires a focus on details. Understanding everything that must be done to execute the strategy, demands that executes focus their efforts and those of their team at a very detailed level. It requires an investment in time and knowing there are no shortcuts or silver bullets.

Next time you develop PowerPoint, or have someone present it to you, try the following:

1. Drill down several levels to understand specifically what is being done, by whom, and what the target dates are. Take notes, put them in your follow up file.

2. When the target dates come due, follow up to see that they are done.

3. In update or status meetings, start with the previous meeting's PowerPoint's (literally) and ask the status of what has been done. Don't let people off the hook. Once you have done this, move onto the new updates. (Besides producing results, there is another derivative benefit. If you do this consistently, the presentations will get much shorter and more focused.)

4. In every strategy review, take one key element and take the time to drill down understanding the details of execution at the level of the people responsible for executing the strategy. Walk through the process step by step. Drill into the thinking of the people presenting. Make sure there is real substance to the strategy, not just bullet points on a chart. Walk through the process, look for the holes, look at it from several point of view--your customers', competitors', others.

You may be wondering: Why is he writing about something like this, isn't this just natural? Sure it's natural, but we don't do it. We lose ourselves in accepting bullets on PowerPoint as the end in itself.

Do you agree? I'd be interested in your views.

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