In the history of management, there are examples of organizations with real potential led by smart executives who failed because they were unable to implement the strategy. In this article, two of the world's leading execution experts, Ram Charan and Lawrence Hrebiniak, share their views about this subject.
In the late 1990s, Ram Charan and Geoffrey Colvin, editor of Fortune magazine, made a breakthrough that rocked the foundations of the business management world. In an article published in June 1999, they analyzed the reason why a large number of the most powerful CEOs in the United States were being removed from office. "Why was Compaq's Eckhard Pfeiffer fired? What errors did Bob Allen make when he was the head of AT&T? What went wrong with Bob Stempel, CEO of GM, and Gil Amelio, CEO at Apple? "The authors’ response was conclusive: “The failure of a leader is rarely due to their lack of vision or intelligence. The problem is that they fail at execution.”
Since then, execution has been pointed out as the main challenge in business. For years, several surveys with CEOs and other senior managers confirm that this is their number one concern. They illustrated in practice what Ram Charan, a senior executive consultant and author Larry Bossidy, of the celebrated book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (ed. Campus / Elsevier), told anyone who would listen: "Creating a brilliant strategy is easy; the difficult thing is to put it into practice.”
But how can we be effective at execution? For some, who follow the Ram Charan line of thinking, it is the combination of leadership, discipline and organizational culture that makes the difference. For others, like Lawrence Hrebiniak, an expert in competitive strategies and the author of the acclaimed book Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change (ed. Bookman), it all depends on processes.