You probably won’t ever hear colleagues say, “We have a problem with our discipline of execution.” Instead, what you may hear are comments like:
- “Why does it take so long to make a decision?”
- “Why aren’t we hitting our goals?”
- “Why do we talk about the same things over and over?”
If these sounds familiar, you may actually have a problem with what I call the “discipline of execution” in your office. It’s all about getting stuff done—and being disciplined about it every day. Discipline is a good thing; to me, it means a singular focus on continuous improvement and problem-solving. Outwardly, your team can appear as casual as it likes—so long as each member embraces an internal discipline of execution. Because, you already know what happens when it’s missing: Everyone is impacted—and they say so.
Discipline of Execution Is Essential for Successful Outcomes
Many of our schools have discovered ways to create environments for success, and effective change management, by establishing their own discipline of execution. Here are a few common practices we’ve seen work for them and for our own Customer Success team, too.
- Pick a Day, Any Day, to Put Your Discipline of Execution into Action
The true definition of execution is putting a plan into action. There will never be a perfect day to enact change, so just pick one. And don’t select a day that’s comfortable. Choose a day and time that makes your heart beat a little faster. Then, get everyone in on it—and make sure they’re active participants.
I’ve found that asking people when they think they can have something completed helps them understand that their input truly matters. Instead of simply giving a deadline, ask what they think is possible. You may be surprised by hearing a much earlier deadline than you would have given.
It’s true: Speed of execution will likely increase when you stop forcing deadlines and empower others to be part of those decisions.
- Clear, Consistent Communication Is Essential
Part of great execution is communicating with others in order to remove any friction that could prevent a plan from succeeding. So, use your words—and get stuff done!
You can’t expect people to just get onboard if you aren’t helping them understand the vision, strategy, and what the expected outcomes should be. Answer all of the questions. Allow people to debate, disagree, and to actively take part in finding solutions.
The best teams I’ve been on don’t immediately have consensus. But in the end, we find agreement in the solution we’ve all worked toward.
- Pre-Determine Measurable Goals. Check on Them Often
Success isn’t just a feeling. In creating a discipline of execution, success should be defined by data. So, whatever they are, determine your expected outcomes first.
Then, establish measurable goals that will shape whether or not your project was a success. And make sure everyone knows what those goals are—so they can mutually drive to, and become a part of, the plan’s success.
Remember to measure and report often. And strive for transparency. Reporting should be visible to everyone involved and communicated weekly. For some projects, reporting may need to be even more frequent.
Don’t Just Try and Fail—Maintain a Discipline of Execution All the Time
The purpose of creating a discipline of execution is to identify a problem, define a strategy to fix it, and then fix it—eliminating extraneous conversations, complaints, and irrelevant concepts. That’s really all there is to it: You simply take action to reach a pre-determined goal while keeping an eye on data that leads to that goal.
In other words, you’re getting stuff done—effectively and efficiently.
Will this work every time? Nope, it won’t. But, then, you just start again—and keep trying until you figure out the best solution.