How Do You Focus on Execution and Delivery? Three Observations

Interview with Doug Merritt, President & CEO, Baynote

Situation: A company has a proven technology and satisfied customers. To achieve their goals, they need delivery on sales and service to ramp revenue. At the same time, new opportunities arise daily. How do you keep the team focused on execution and delivery?

Advice from Doug Merritt:

  • The first thing to focus on is focus itself. Most of us don’t suffer from lack of opportunities, but from an inability to make hard choices and diligently pursue the few critical or high pay-off options. To tell the difference between gold nuggets and distracting bright shiny objects, you must have a clear strategy and priorities on customers and channels you want to develop. It is critical to choose the right opportunities that will optimize achievement of the strategic plan and to say not to those that don’t. This must be constantly reaffirmed through a simple set of metrics around your optimal customer set, revenue ramp, and quality of services delivered.
  • The second thing is attracting the right talent. A small and rapidly growing company has little time and resources to effectively train fresh talent. If scale is the issue, it’s important to identify and attract experienced individuals – those who have proven their ability to deliver and who bring along a high quality, proven, loyal following. Top talent that can open the purse strings of your target customers. This means hiring rock stars who do this better than you can! The challenge for the CEO is remembering that success almost always comes from hiring people who can do their jobs much better than you ever could. The CEO’s unique talent isn’t being the smartest person in the room – it’s your ability to build and guide an organization that will achieve more than you can alone.
  • Third is to keep the team focused on the most important priorities. The CEO needs to generate a crisp vision and to distribute information that maintains focus on that vision. Most “Type A” overachievers want to do lots of things well. The key is doing the right things well. You do this by measuring, and by creating transparency around the few key levers that drive the strategy.  It helps your cause to say no to a visible and enticing “bright shiny object” that, in the past, the team would have reluctantly accepted.  Finally, it also helps to create a few large and non-negotiable milestones that get the company to focus, as a unit, on achievement.   Ultimately, the CEO needs to coach and guide their team to do the right things right.

You can contact Doug Merritt at doug@baynote.com

Key Words: Delivery, Execution, Focus, Opportunity, Priorities, Customer, Channel, Plan, Metrics, Talent, Experience, Ego, Team, Vision, Information, Listen, Learn

One thought on “How Do You Focus on Execution and Delivery? Three Observations

  1. Keith Francis

    You make three important points Doug which certainly get to the core. I would like to build on them a little further. Focus is certainly crucial, and to be more specific my work comparing organizations effective at execution against those less so, indicates that good executors focus on execution.

    What I mean by this is that they do not attempt to drive performance solely by the acquisition of metrics (metric management), they do so by focusing on the execution of decisions and actions that lead to the metrics. In others words they drive the how and not just measuring what. This is a subtle difference, but highly significant one.

    Metric management is based on the assumption that what gets measured gets done. However, a more realistic description would be what gets measured gets achieved. There is a whole lot of difference between achieving the metrics and making the expected change. There are endless examples of this phenomenon.

    There is little doubt that successful CEO’s tend to communicate their corporate vision and strategy effectively, even so assuming communication is all that is required to drive the organization off in the intended direction appears not to be the case. Effective executing organizations tend to look to ensure their corporate strategy is fully aliened to the decisions and actions of every individual. Strategy alignment is often quoted as important, but generally amounts to little more than aliening metrics in the form of objectives. Again good executors are more direct and objective, they tend to hardwire the actions and decisions of every employee in the organization, and not just the goals.

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