The Smith Report - Operational Playbooks

CEOs – Do You Really Have An ExecutionTeam?

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If you only employ people that do what you tell them they will fail to execute. As CEO you need to see a little piece of yourself in them. They need to solve problems on the ground, to get stuff done. The solutions that will be needed will require curiosity, grit, problem solving abilities, problem finding abilities, all things that were left unsaid when you gave your instructions! They will need to find their way round problems, they will need to improvise, innovate to get to the solution, to get things done. They will need to use judgement when the data points are weak. Need to show grit when the easier route is to give up.

Businesses fail to scale because of poor execution. Heinz will grow faster and stronger with better execution. Burger King improved with better execution deployed by 3G Capital of Brazil and they will put the right team together again to improve Heinz. When an MBO is successful it’s usually by deploying much better, focused execution than was possible under the previous parenthood of neglect.

Of course Positioning is clearly essential. I’m not saying that most SMBs can ignore their positioning because who you are, choosing a great market to execute can be key. But execution is the main reason behind a lack of scaling. The reason why only 600,000 US enterprises out of 27.3m employ 20 people or more.

Conclusion

CEOs need to restructure their businesses around doers and I suspect that means sadly trading up on the talent front and recognizing that some existing team members cannot execute at the velocity you need them to. These loyal servants who can’t scale can still be valuable members of your team but only under the drive of a manager who can execute.

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About the Author

Ian founded The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) in 2010. TPP is an operational consultancy focused on scaling private businesses safely. He believes his resume of building 4 previous businesses from publishing, investment banking to software in Europe and the States gives him a unique set of skills and a sense of humor. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and in 2012 was ranked #2 indoors in the world for his age at 400m.

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