Part IV: A SAFE Way to Win In Business

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“Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, people don’t meet their stretch goals, and the revolution stops dead in its tracks.”

–     Larry Bossidy (b. 1935), management / leadership guru, former CEO of AlliedSignal and GE high-riser under Jack Welch; co-author of “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Mr. Welch passed away earlier this week (more on that next week), leavng as part of his legacy this whole concept of execution as a discipline; a cultivated, strategic, learn-able and predictive approach to leading a team.

This is the final post in a four-part series on a “SAFE” way to win in business.  But not “safe” in a “ooooooh, let’s stay here in the foxhole and hope to God some of the other soldiers come to our rescue” way.  We’re talking about “SAFE” as in structured, well-planned, clearly-defined and actionable things we can do, right here.  Right now.

For THG and our Clients, we make a difference when we honor the SAFE principles — and execute (you just knew there was a “E” coming today!) on them all day, every day.

SAFE Re-summarized – “S” is for Strategy over Structure

Strategy over structure.  Every.  Time.  Strategy guides our business and then structure serves our strategy.  No matter how long someone’s tenure is, no matter how big their personality is, no matter how much power they think they have.  Strategy.  Over.  Structure.

“A” if for “Attawareumen” — I made up a word!

Awareness, Attitude and Acumen.  Great companies are aware of their strengths, weaknesses and abilities.  Great companies remove negative attitudes like a surgeon removes a tumor (the analogy holds — bad attitudes are cancers, cut them out!).  Great companies develop acumen, new skills and greater depth via new experiences and committed, sustained training programs.  The “A” is where the “S” starts to get real for every member of the team.

“F” is for Intelligence, a blatant tease / tie to yesterday’s post!

Flexibility.  Einstein essentially said we’re dopey if we’re not flexible.  Technically he said “the ability to change is the measure of intelligence.”  George S. Patton is one of my mentors, even though we never met.  He died 16 years before I was born.  He was harsh.  He was direct.  He was intense.  He was also among the most flexible military leaders of all time.  He stayed close the front, understood the fight and changed the strategy and / or tactics when the fight called for him to do so – not too early, not too late, when the fight called for him to do so.  He had great instincts, developed at the front, and they fed his flexibility.  (If I would have tried to work “instincts” into this series, it would have wrecked the acronym, so look for hints to it in the “S” and “A” sections…)

Ok, then, where does “E” for Execution fit in?

Great coaches have a game plan.  Great teams execute that game plan.  Great opponents try to mess it up.  It’s easy to see where the Strategy over Structure piece comes in — at the beginning.  The A & F Factors get us ready in practice and game-planning.  Execution is where we apply all that we are, all that we know and the comfort and confidence to change with the market.

Execution is rarely flashy.  Clear, methodical, predictable commitment goes into top-notch execution.  Stretching to do more than others can do is a key element of the kind of execution upon which Difference-Makers should be focused.  Feedback and communication not only contribute to execution, they give everyone on the team ownership of the outcome, good or bad.  And finally, execution is like iron-on-iron, strengthening our conflict management skills, creating life-long (not an exaggeration at all!) bonds and setting us up to be industry or profession leaders.

Look, it’s been four days!  Summarize for me, please!

Winning SAFE-ly.  Pretty simple.  Not easy, but very simple.  Pretty basic.  Not obvious, but pretty danged basic.  This ain’t PhD / MBA stuff.  This is Patton-in-the-theater, Dick Heston-facing-a-flood-on-the-farm basic.

It’s also the kind of thing that will make someone remember us as Difference Makers.

 

 


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