Book Recommendations, Part Two: Strategy & Execution

Strategy is probably the most confusing word in the business vocabulary, primarily because if you ask ten people what it means you will get ten different answers. I think of it as establishing a direction for an organization to move in. Also, we can’t determine if we are being effective in our execution unless we understand the direction we want to be heading in. Having said that, here are eleven excellent books on strategy and execution.

Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta

Elevate and Deep Dive by Rich Horwath

Management by Peter Drucker

Good to Great and Beyond Entrepreneurship by Jim Collins

Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema

Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove

Profit from the Core by Chris Zook

Top Management Strategy by Ben Tregoe and John Zimmerman




80% of Success is Execution

To paraphrase Woody Allen, 80% of success is execution. The vast majority of the success in your organization is going to be determined by how well people execute on a day-to-day basis. Innovation and branding are important to sustaining success, but you have to have success to start with and that is built on effective execution.

Execution has two parts. First, answer this question, “Who is going to do what when and why are they going to do it?” In essence, that question is directly related to the strategy that has been established for your organization. Second, actually go and do it.

Sometimes the problem is that the strategy is wrong and people are going down a path that doesn’t matter to customers. However, there are many instances where the strategy was good, but it got botched in the doing it part.

As you move forward in actually implementing the answer to that question, make sure you maintain real teamwork. Real teamwork is a group of individuals supporting one toward achieving meaningful objectives. If people are working against each other and/or have no idea what objectives they are trying to impact, they are unlikely to fulfill their tasks effectively. Teamwork is a business driver. It is essential for strategic insights to become useful realities.

As a business leader, focus on improving the teamwork in your organization: clarify roles and responsibilities, hold people accountable for behaviors that strengthen teamwork and for the ones that don’t, and reinforce the importance of teamwork on an on-going basis.