I sat across from a friend who bemoaned the fact that he’d recently, “put on ten pounds and neglected the gym.” As he lamented his condition, he opened up another packet of ketchup for his fries.
My friend knows that fries, and his expanding waistline, are connected. He also understands that it would be a good idea to avoid those fries and re-engage the gym. Like all of us though, he experiences a gap between good ideas and daily action. Of course, this “idea-action gap” is not relegated to things like fries and inactivity. It’s something leaders and people in organizations face as well.
Leaders are prone to massage and flirt with good ideas. We enjoy the idea of ideas. Often though, idea-enjoyment doesn’t translate into action. We attend conferences, read books, discuss concepts, and imagine the better world ahead—once the ideas are implemented. All the while, execution lags behind or never occurs. Conferences, books, concepts and imagination are good things, no doubt. Yet, without execution, we’re just shoving the fries right back in our mouths.
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, in their book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (2002) wrote,
Everybody talks about change…But unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they’re pointless. Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down…What you get is change for the worse, because failure drains the energy from your organization. Repeated failure destroys it (p.19).
So….for next week or so, I will occasionally throw in a post about getting beyond ideas and into real collaboration.