Strong Culture of Execution


Organizational culture more important than strategy - The importance of organizational alignment


Good execution requires having a “systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it,” argue Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in the book “Execution.” Most organizations, they say, don’t face reality very well. It’s the manager’s job to force his organization to face reality, and then to deal with it.

You don’t have to be a management expert to diagnose whether an organization has a strong culture of execution. It’s usually obvious. Just sit through a couple of top management meetings, and you’ll quickly get the idea.

If the meeting consists of a long Power Point presentation, filled with slides purporting to show all the wonderful things the presenting group has done; if others in the meeting sit quietly throughout, unwilling to ask questions or poke holes, knowing their own presentations will soon follow; if everyone leaves the meeting with no clear sense of what happens next; and if the lead manager sits quietly throughout, then you have every reason to be concerned. This is not a culture of execution.

On the other hand, if the presentation is short and to the point; if the presenter clearly highlights both successes and failures; if others feel free to question and debate the presentation; if there is a common understanding among everyone in the room on goals and timelines, and if all leave the room with a clear sense of what needs to happen next and who needs to do it, then you are likely witnessing a strong culture of execution.

Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.

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