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Execution
Cover of Execution
Execution
The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Borrow Borrow
The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you're running an entire company or in your first management job
Larry Bossidy is one of the world's most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they've pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.
After a long, stellar career with General Electric, Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world's most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. Accomplishments such as 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more didn't just happen; they resulted from the consistent practice of the discipline of execution: understanding how to link together people, strategy, and operations, the three core processes of every business.
Leading these processes is the real job of running a business, not formulating a "vision" and leaving the work of carrying it out to others. Bossidy and Charan show the importance of being deeply and passionately engaged in an organization and why robust dialogues about people, strategy, and operations result in a business based on intellectual honesty and realism.
The leader's most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated. As a CEO, Larry Bossidy personally makes the calls to check references for key hires. Why? With the right people in the right jobs, there's a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies that can be executed. People then work together to create a strategy building block by building block, a strategy in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. Once the right people and strategy are in place, they are then linked to an operating process that results in the implementation of specific programs and actions and that assigns accountability. This kind of effective operating process goes way beyond the typical budget exercise that looks into a rearview mirror to set its goals. It puts reality behind the numbers and is where the rubber meets the road.
Putting an execution culture in place is hard, but losing it is easy. In July 2001 Larry Bossidy was asked by the board of directors of Honeywell International (it had merged with AlliedSignal) to return and get the company back on track. He's been putting the ideas he writes about in Execution to work in real time.
The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you're running an entire company or in your first management job
Larry Bossidy is one of the world's most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they've pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.
After a long, stellar career with General Electric, Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world's most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. Accomplishments such as 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more didn't just happen; they resulted from the consistent practice of the discipline of execution: understanding how to link together people, strategy, and operations, the three core processes of every business.
Leading these processes is the real job of running a business, not formulating a "vision" and leaving the work of carrying it out to others. Bossidy and Charan show the importance of being deeply and passionately engaged in an organization and why robust dialogues about people, strategy, and operations result in a business based on intellectual honesty and realism.
The leader's most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated. As a CEO, Larry Bossidy personally makes the calls to check references for key hires. Why? With the right people in the right jobs, there's a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies that can be executed. People then work together to create a strategy building block by building block, a strategy in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. Once the right people and strategy are in place, they are then linked to an operating process that results in the implementation of specific programs and actions and that assigns accountability. This kind of effective operating process goes way beyond the typical budget exercise that looks into a rearview mirror to set its goals. It puts reality behind the numbers and is where the rubber meets the road.
Putting an execution culture in place is hard, but losing it is easy. In July 2001 Larry Bossidy was asked by the board of directors of Honeywell International (it had merged with AlliedSignal) to return and get the company back on track. He's been putting the ideas he writes about in Execution to work in real time.
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  • From the book

    CHAPTER 1

    The Gap Nobody Knows

    The CEO was sitting in his office late one evening, looking tired and drained. He was trying to explain to a visitor why his great strategic initiative had failed, but he couldn't figure out what had gone wrong.

    "I'm so frustrated," he said. "I got the group together a year ago, people from all the divisions. We had two off-site meetings, did benchmarking, got the metrics. McKinsey helped us. Everybody agreed with the plan. It was a good one, and the market was good.

    "This was the brightest team in the industry, no question about it. I assigned stretch goals. I empowered them-gave them the freedom to do what they needed to do. Everybody knew what had to be done. Our incentive system is clear, so they knew what the rewards and penalties would be. We worked together with high energy. How could we fail?

    "Yet the year has come to an end, and we missed the goals. They let me down; they didn't deliver the results. I have lowered earnings estimates four times in the past nine months. We've lost our credibility with the Street. I have probably lost my credibility with the board. I don't know what to do, and I don't know where the bottom is. Frankly, I think the board may fire me."

    Several weeks later the board did indeed fire him.

    This story-it's a true one-is the archetypal story of the gap that nobody knows. It's symptomatic of the biggest problem facing corporations today. We hear lots of similar stories when we talk to business leaders. They're played out almost daily in the press, when it reports on companies that should be succeeding but aren't: Aetna, AT&T, British Airways, Campbell Soup, Compaq, Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, Xerox, and many others.

    These are good companies. They have smart CEOs and talented people, they have inspiring visions, and they bring in the best consultants. Yet they, and many other companies as well, regularly fail to produce promised results. Then when they announce the shortfall, investors dump their stocks and enormous market value is obliterated. Managers and employees are demoralized. And increasingly, boards are forced to dump the CEOs.

    The leaders of all the companies listed above were highly regarded when they were appointed-they seemed to have all of the right qualifications. But they all lost their jobs because they didn't deliver what they said they would. In the year 2000 alone, forty CEOs of the top two hundred companies on Fortune's 500 list were removed-not retired but fired or made to resign. When 20 percent of the most powerful business leaders in America lose their jobs, something is clearly wrong. This trend continued in 2001 and will clearly be in evidence in 2002.

    In such cases it's not just the CEO who suffers-so do the employees, alliance partners, shareholders, and even customers. And it's not just the CEO whose shortcomings create the problem, though of course he or she is ultimately responsible.

    What is the problem? Is it a rough business environment? Yes. Whether the economy is strong or weak, competition is fiercer than ever. Change comes faster than ever. Investors-who were passive when today's senior leaders started their careers-have turned unforgiving. But this factor by itself doesn't explain the near-epidemic of shortfalls and failures. Despite this, there are companies that deliver on their commitments year in and year out-companies such as GE, Wal-Mart, Emerson, Southwest Airlines, and Colgate-Palmolive.

    When companies fail to deliver on their promises, the most frequent explanation is that the CEO's strategy was wrong. But the strategy by...

About the Author-
  • Larry Bossidy is the retired chairman of the board and CEO of Honeywell International, a global $24 billion advanced technology, controls, and manufacturing company. He began his career at General Electric, where he served in a number of executive and financial positions, including COO of GE Capital, executive vice president and president of GE's Services and Materials Sector, and vice chairman and executive officer. In 1991 Mr. Bossidy joined AlliedSignal Inc. as chairman and CEO and merged the company with Honeywell in 1999.
    Ram Charan is a highly acclaimed business advisor, speaker, and author, well known for his practical, real-world perspective. He was a Baker Scholar at Harvard Business School where he earned his MBA degree with Distinction, as well as his DBA. Dr. Charan is also the author of What the CEO Wants You to Know, Profitable Growth Is Everyone's Business, The Leadership Pipeline, and Boards at Work. His articles have appeared in Fortune and Harvard Business Review.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The book's title, EXECUTION, is defined by the authors as closing the gap between results promised and results delivered, with the intended audience being those running a company or those in their first management job. The major narrator, John Lloyd, booms like a loudspeaker as he announces the audiobook's abundant secrets of executive success (for example, "know yourself" and "follow through"), all justified by sparse anecdotal or scientific proof. Listeners who can identify the book's tenets will learn how to "link people, strategy, and operations, the three core processes of every business." J.A.H. 2003 Audie Award Finalist (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine
  • Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, Dell Computer Corp.

    "If you want to be a CEO--or if you are a CEO and want to keep your job--read Execution and put its principles to work."

  • L. R. Raymond, chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil "Good practical insight and advice on managing for results at firms of any size. Execution is key, and this book clearly explains what it means and how it brings together the critical elements of any organization--its people, strategies, and operations."
  • Ralph S. Larsen, chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson "The best-thought-out plans in the world aren't worth the paper they're written on if you can't pull them off. And that's what this book is all about. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done is well written and gives sound, practical advice about how to make things happen. It is well worth the reading."
  • Ivan Seidenberg, president and co--chief executive officer, Verizon "Larry Bossidy recognizes how execution in a business defines the true greatness of a company. He captures a lifetime of building winning formulas and puts them in a simple and practical context for executives at any level. Read it!"
  • Michael Useem, professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania "For those managers who have struggled to make it happen, fix a problem, get it done--or otherwise transform winning strategies into genuine results--here's the missing medicine from two who know from long experience what works and what doesn't. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan offer a compelling leadership prescription, and it comes down to realism, discipline, and above all, great execution."
  • Richard Schroeder, cofounder of Six Sigma Academy "Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan define the true meaning of leadership from an implementation point of view. Larry is the expert on productivity in the world of business, and this book demonstrates how leadership is the key to achieving ongoing financial success."
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The Discipline of Getting Things Done
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