Tag Archives: execution

A Training Session is Just the Beginning

The problem is simple.  Too many employees are not fully developed.  In fact, too many employees develop very little after they are hired.

And this is a problem.

So, how does a company do a better job at developing employees?  Here is a line from the 2002 book that kind of launched the “Execution” discussion of the last decade, Execution:  The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.

Teach your people – but remember, 80% of learning happens outside of the formal learning situations. 

If 80% of learning happens outside of the formal learning situations, does this mean that the formal training, the formal sessions, are a waste of time?  Yes – and no.

The formal training sessions are essential to jump-start the conversation, to give the “basics,” to “teach” the principles that need to be worked on.  In other words, if the 80% of learning is outside the formal learning situations, you still need the formal session to start the process effectively.  It is only a start – but it is an essential start.

But, after the session, the real learning begins.  As the employee “works on” this new development area, a manager has to provide feedback, coaching, constructive criticism.  It has to be someone’s job to help each employee take the next step.

So, in other words, without the training session, it is a much harder task to demonstrate just what needs to be worked on.  But just to “say/present/teach,” even in a well-designed and well-led training session “this is what you need to work on,” without effective follow-up feedback and coaching, then, yes, training sessions can be a waste of time and resources.

In other words, it takes work; ongoing work, a lot of work, and teamwork between employee and managers, to develop the skills and capabilities of employees.


At Creative Communication Network, we have recently experimented with a new “Individual Action Plan,” that each participant completes at the end of each training session.  Then, it is up to that employee to share that plan with his/her manager, and together they can tackle the ongoing feedback and coaching needs.

The training sessions alone are good, valuable.  But, not enough!  We are fully convinced that it is the “next steps” that make all the difference.

First, the Plan – then the Execution

“If you don’t want to go to Plan B, have a good Plan A.” 
Alex, on Nikita

I love it when a plan comes together.”
Colonel Jon “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team


From Tim Berry, What Makes a Good Plan?

Here’s Chapter Eight of Toy Box Leadership:  Leadership Lessons from the Toys You Loved as a Child by Ron Hunter Jr. & Michael E. Waddell:

Little Green Army Men — Strategy:  Success is in the Setup

Success is in the setup…

Have you planned your day?  Do you know what you are going to do today.  With each hour of the day?  With each quarter hour of each hour?

What about your week?  Do you know what you are going to do with your week?  Each day of the week?  Each hour of each day?  Each…

Do you what what you are going to do with your month?

Are you beginning to get the picture?  You will get more done the better you plan.  Oh, the plan might have to be adjusted.  But, to quote again this great wisdom from Dwight Eisenhower:

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.

There is a reason that the old wisdom endures.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail…” is a piece of that old wisdom.  And it is still, and will always, be, true.

Setup – plan. Then work your plan.

Call this strategy, then execution. 

So, how good a planner are you?

You Haven’t Finished Reading A Book Until You Do This… (Wishful Thinking Vs. Execution)

When I present one of my book synopsis presentations, I like to read some of the key quotes from the book and then ask folks to “turn to the person next to you and tell them which quote most resonated with you.”  It always sparks some lively and useful conversations.

Here’s the next step – the takeaway for you whenever you read a book.  Ask yourself:

“what have I read that resonates with me – with my situation, at work, especially at this time?”

Now, ask yourself this question:

“So, what am I going to do about this?” 

When you get the answer to this question, then you can begin implementing what you have learned from reading your book.

In other words, understand – get clear! – and then, do!

In other words, the world belongs to those who understand, and then execute!

For those who never execute – it’s all just wishful thinking…

When Circumstances Trump Great Business Plans and Practices (some thoughts on a snow day)

Just some thoughts on a snow day…
Ok, I’m trapped inside… and getting just a little crazy…

So… I’m “thinking” about stuff.

And here is one of my thoughts.  There are times when circumstances overtake and overrun and trump all other considerations.

Take the First Friday Book Synopsis.  We have gotten better at marketing this event.  We are nearly in our fourteenth year, and this event is stronger than ever, and the circle of participants, both regular and occasional, just keeps growing.  It is wonderful, and the people who make up our community make us successful.  (Thank you).  And, I think we provide valuable content – our event really is useful and valuable in quite a few ways (networking, book synopsis content, great food!)

But all the marketing, all the loyalty, all the value in the world, just withered (make that “froze”) in the face of ice patches, freezing temperatures, and a blanket of snow.  Circumstances shut us done – at least, for this month.

And we are just one very small operation, with one event.  (although, like all of you, there are ripple effects impacting our clients, and our work with them).  Imagine the angst in the decision-making rooms of the Airlines, and all of the outdoor Super Bowl week organizers, and…  Now, we’re talking about real money, and far-reaching ripple effects.

And, especially in this Super Bowl week, think of all the “small folks” hurt – people who took their savings or borrowed the money to print souvenirs, t-shirts, Super Bowl collectibles.  Circumstances trumped all of the best business planning…

And, then, think of a really big circumstance – the uprising in Egypt.  As I write this, Egypt is experiencing utter chaos.  Think of all the business income lost in the midst of this unrest and uncertainty and actual danger.

So, you know the formula:  strategic thinking + strategic planning + flawless execution lead to success.  But…but…

So…  I write this to remind us all of a simple truth.  We can plan, work, demonstrate a serious work-ethic, but there are times when circumstances overtake all that we do.

And, yes, I love the snow, and the snow day…  it is beautiful!

Verne Harnish – “Thinking Out Loud,” with Substance

I had the privilege of speaking to the Gazelles this week in Orlando.  I presented two synopses:  The Checklist Manifesto and Multipliers.  The day was rich with insight, from presentations and conversations.

Verne Harnish

At this event, Verne Harnish, the founder of the Gazelles organization, the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, and overall business thinker par excellence, just shares his latest thinking.  They call his session “Visitation with Verne.” I have pages of notes and ponderings from his presentation.

He started with a simple challenge:  “we need more rigor.” Good challenge!

Here are a couple of key thoughts from his visitation:

#1:  You’ve got to out-read and out-learn your competitors. Like all great insights, this is so obvious; yet we don’t see it, pay attention to it, do it.  After all the emphasis through the years on the learning organization; after all the insight we gain from this simple fact:  good leaders keep reading important books; we still don’t put reading and learning in their needed place in our priorities.  Verne reminded us that there is always someone out there trying to keep ahead of you.  You’ve simply got to out-read, out-learn your competitors.

Here’s an interesting way to think about it:  before you can be effective at “brainstorming,” you have to be very effective at “brain-filling.”

#2:  Forget “Strategic Planning” – shift to “Strategic Thinking, Execution Planning.” Vocabulary matters.  Vocabulary shapes behavior.  What you call/name something shapes what it becomes.  And Verne, the man behind the brilliant and exceptionally practical and usable “One-Page Strategic Plan,” (download it free from the Gazelles website, here.  Click the “strategy” tab), thinks that it is time for a vocabulary shift.

In reality, there is no such thing as strategic planning.  There is only “strategic thinking,” and then comes “execution planning.” This shift reminds us that “strategic planning” is in reality a two-step process.  Without the right strategy, execution can not win the day.  With the right strategy, a failure at execution loses the day.

There was much more from Verne.  But these two strike me as especially critical to our on-going pursuit of success.


You can purchase my synopsis of The Checklist Manifesto, Multipliers, and many other titles, with audio + handout, from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

First is good – Better is better (Facebook won!)

Facebook owns its market, maybe the whole world!  But it wasn’t first – it was just simpler to use, (and very, very, very, very competitive).

Here’s the key quote:

Campus Network figured it out first. Facebook just executed it better.

Read about this here: The Other Social Network: It launched first. It had cooler features. Why did Columbia’s Campus Network lose out to Harvard’s Facebook? by Christopher Beam.