That Leadership Journey -10. Execution

Protect And SurviveI could write several blogs about this photograph, each with a completely different angle, and maybe I will. However, this is not going to be a post about the rather abysmal level of law and order in Delhi. That has to wait for another time.

This time, it is about something else entirely.

My favourite management book that I never did read is one called “Execution”, by Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy, I think. I have never been a great reader of management books, though I must say I do like the ones by Ram Charan. When I came upon this book, I sniffed with derision, and thought, “Pff, one more management book!”

Over time, I used to talk about the book, and I would say that the title just about sums up the book perfectly!

Now, look at the picture carefully. In Delhi, we have this wonderfully archaic police process of putting up barriers on the road, with the slogan, “We slow you down, but we try not to let criminals get away”. More on this later. Of course, given the generally horrible, and slow pace of the traffic, I could argue that it does not need to be slowed down further.

However, do look at the picture carefully, if you please. I had to ensure that the policeman did not catch me, as I snapped him with my cell phone. The chap is sitting down, enjoying the shade, possibly thinking of this and that – his colleagues in the sun, maybe? Something amorous, maybe? Maybe, the lunch. As I walked away, he stretched and yawned, as the traffic weaved past the barrier, past him, with him not blinking an eye.

The think tank at the police headquarters possibly conceived of this wonderful plan to catch criminals as they attend to escape. Brilliant maybe. Maybe not, but we shall not argue the point here.

The man is clearly not bothered about the traffic, or the criminals, so no matter how good or bad the plan at the HQ level, the execution on the ground is really horrible.

How many plans crumble to dust because of poor execution? How many times do leaders wine and dine each other in their fancy clubs, congratulating themselves on their wonderful strategy, without bothering about the actual execution of the plan?

When they lose money, the first thing they do, is to downsize. This is easy.

I have always believed that, unless you can execute a plan well, all it really is, is a bunch of words on paper, words to be distributed amongst an audience that wants to hear nice stuff, but does not want to be bothered with the messy details of execution.

The policeman must have had a good siesta under the tree, possibly with a quiet chuckle at his bosses sitting in their wonderful cloudy universe!

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