“Vision without execution is hallucination”

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This time of the year, we get to hear all about everybody’s New Year Resolutions.  I shall lose some weight! I shall exercise! I shall spend more time with family! I shall volunteer! I shall learn the trumpet!

These resolutions have fantastic mileage.  Most people can recycle last year’s resolution every year.  This is because those lofty goals fall victim to vision without execution.  Without an actionable plan and a commitment to execute, these good intentions end up going nowhere.

The importance of execution is often overlooked in a startup where fluidity, creativity and innovation define “cool”.   The need to be nimble and quickly pivot can create an environment where visionaries thrive, but execution is glossed over.  But if execution is ineffective, even the best idea will fall down.  In this brutal economy, if you cannot execute on the milestones attached to a funding round, you may never get a second chance.  Your next appointment could be with the repo-man.

How do we set up an environment where our team can execute with excellence?  Here are some tactics that have worked for me.

  • Clearly define the goals, objectives and measures of success, and communicate it up and down the foodchain.
  • Having enough an actionable plan to get started and go for at least the first phase (which should last weeks, not days).
  • Continuing to refine and build on the plan as you progress.
  • Construct the right team with the right skillset to get the job done.
  • Be ready to swap out team members if they turn out to have the wrong skillset or the wrong mindset.
  • Measure yourself against success metrics early and often and call a spade a spade as soon as enough data is available.
  • Celebrate victories, big and small. Reward team members for a job well done, early and often.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Own up to failures yourself – don’t make excuses, and don’t wait for someone else to notice.
  • Be open and humble.  Talk less and listen more, to tap into the wisdom and experience of other people.

What are your favorite tips for execution? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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