Consulting for Small to Medium size Industrial Products companies
Execution - reasons for failure and how to succeed
by Warren Martin, Founder on January 6th, 2018

​Execution: Why most fail, and the keys to successfully executing

You see it in business, sports, and daily life all the time. You hear or read, “we just didn’t execute.” Why?? In this short page, I will put forth my own beliefs as to why execution is not successful and the factors involved as well as what can be done to increase the probability of executing successfully.
Firstly, goals are often not reality based, too complex to understand, or not articulated in a manner that can be understood and absorbed. I have seen this in business and in sports (football) lead to a lack of execution resulting in failure. Develop goals that are grounded in realism. Clearly articulate the goals and expectations of the role each participant plays in successfully executing these goals. Go over and over the goals and roles until you are sure that all involved understand!
Define milestones and timelines for achievement. Many times I have seen execution fail because the people involved did not know when certain tasks were expected to be completed. Therefore, other priorities took up their time and… expected execution simply did not happen. Establish clear timelines and milestones for completion of tasks needed to execute the goal. Communicate these clearly, directly, and deliberately.
Lack of follow-up often leads to execution failure. The leader(s) simply ASSUME all is going well. When the timeline for completion arrives and tasks are not completed for one reason or another, it is too late. The leader(s) have only themselves to blame. Assume nothing! Follow-up on a regular basis to ensure tasks are being completed in the expected time allotted. Intervene if the projects are not on schedule and do what it takes to get them on schedule.
Hold people accountable. Unfortunately, many leaders and the people that work for them are satisfied with average. As a result, excuses for not completing tasks on-time, and thus not executing are tolerated. If execution is to succeed, everyone needs to accomplish their role. Leaders need to have the courage to make necessary personnel changes when lack of performance by people is getting in the way of successful execution.
Reward good performers. When people do what is required to enable successful execution, reward them. This can come in the way of a sincere thank you, either face-to face or letter. The best way to express your gratitude is in the way of compensation. It is extremely important to tie compensation to successful execution.
Finally, a pet peeve of mine is simply just a lack of leadership. Many leaders just accept average performance as the norm. If execution fails, they just write it off as “we tried our best” and move on. That attitude is the biggest reason why execution fails. The leaders simply don’t have the will or drive to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Leadership must DRIVE execution with a passion. Even if all of the above-mentioned factors are in place, without strong leaders who will accept nothing less than full execution, execution will likely end in failure. If you are reading this and wondering if it is you I am talking about here, the answer is yes. It is on you to MAKE IT HAPPEN. As it is said; “If it is going to be, it is up to me.”

Warren Martin
Founder – 15 Consulting


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