Priorities, Planning, and Execution

Priorities, Planning, and Execution

Jeff Wolf, President, RCC

Time to read: 2 minutes
Adapted from Seven Disciplines of a Leader

We have a greater need now to be highly effective through clear focus on purpose, centered on principles, and execution around priorities.  If there is little agreement on purpose and direction, the culture is characterized by control, contention, and confusion.  The reason for this tragic ineffectiveness is a lack of focus and execution.

Priorities. Focusing on priorities unleashes talent and energy and creates a culture where each person shares a common focus and executes around priorities. When change accelerates, formerly successful processes and practices don’t work.  Nothing fails like past successes.  Today everyone must have the same purpose, principles, and focus; they must know who they are, what they are trying to do, where they are trying go, why they need to get there, and how they will cooperate.  It must be internalized.  Leaders get people on the same page, executing around priorities, which releases talent and energy.

Planning. Set goals that lead.  Well-defined goals are among the most effective tools available to any leader, yet most leaders don’t set goals that lead their people in the right direction. The purpose of this discipline is to produce clear and measurable annual goals.  Pursuing these goals will lead people to align their daily activities with the few vital objectives set in the strategy.  The result is a brief goals statement that every team member can support.

Execution. Work the plan.  One of the best learning tools is the individual quarterly plan.  In this discipline, every person works with the team leader to develop individual plans for the coming quarter.  These goals are reviewed and aligned with company goals.  This plan serves as a time-saving template for a weekly status report.  Every person knows how to set goals, understand priorities, take responsibility for those goals, become accountable, report progress, and solve problems.

Let’s examine the previous three points in more detail.  We put first things first; we’re proactive and responsible; we’re a product of our decisions, not our conditions; and we regularly renew our focus and execution.

  1. Planning. Through this discipline, a plan, is born.  The plan depicts the desired end or aim and specifies the best means for achieving it.
  2. Organizing. This discipline seeks to optimally organize resources to achieve the plan.  This requires identifying all actions and activities and organizing them to maximize resources and results.
  3. Measuring Performance. This practice recognizes that what gets measured gets managed and gets done.  This discipline measures how well these activities are performed and signals management when they are poorly performed.
  4. Executing. This means assigning all of the plan’s activities to employees to perform (nothing left to chance). This leads to attaining the plan.  Executing expectantly engages and empowers employees to ideally perform their assigned activities and holds them accountable when they don’t.
  5. Following up. This practice generates actionable feedback, aligns expected outcomes with actual performance, instills cooperation and accountability, and reinforces making right things happen.
  6. Real-time reporting. This takes collected feedback (timely, reliable, and accurate performance data), shares it, and makes it readily available so mangers can take action to address problems.
  7. Problem-solving. This occurs when problems are identified, understood, addressed, and monitored.  This requires a system that provides quantitative and qualitative feedback with which to resolve problems and improve performance. This system ensures the constant use of the seven learned disciplines. Systems drive action, and these actions produce certain outcomes.    

You can replace ineffective habits of coasting, avoiding responsibility, taking the easy way out, and exercising little initiative or will-power with the discipline to focus on the important but not necessarily urgent matters of your life, thereby gaining leverage and influence.  You go from victim to creative resource, from futility to hope, from having can’t and won’t power to being focused and having can and will power and the discipline to realize your top priorities.

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