Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Execution: Not Sexy but Successful


“You’re always going to be faced with the situations that came up yesterday at some point in the season. You’re always going to face that. And if you have reliable people who are prepared and anxious to have an opportunity to play and prove themselves, then you can carry on.

“Regardless of whether you’re a five-play-a-game guy or not, you’re very involved in everything that we do. Our coaches, our meetings, are all for the purpose of providing everyone with the information they need to perform well.”

--Tom Coughlin, head coach, NFL New York Giants, discussing injuries that have forced him to change his lineup.


“One thing that we say is when somebody goes down, we like to step up. In the receiver room, we try to take pride in that.”

--Dominik Hixon, New York Giants' back-up wide receiver and special teams player, who returned three kicks for a total of 180 yards, including an 83-yard run that led to a field goal in the second quarter. He finished with 6 receptions and 269 all-purpose yards in a win over the Washington Redskins.

“The one thing I can say about our team right now is whether we’re up 3 or down 3, up 7 or down 7, we have the confidence that we’re going to come back and win the game. A lot of us feel like that because we have done it before.

“You raise your own standards as well as your team’s standards. You carry yourself differently because you do not allow yourself or your teammates to settle for mediocrity. You expect greatness from everybody. You’re no longer saying: ‘Oh, man, we didn’t get it done. Well, what are you going to do? We’re not perfect.’

“Now it’s like, ‘That’s unacceptable.’ We know how good we can be when we play the way we’re supposed to play.

"This team handles adversity extremely well, and it’s just another opportunity for us to demonstrate it.”

--Sean O'Hara, veteran New York Giants center, who responded to questions about injuries and other distractions this year (including the legal troubles of Plaxico Burress) and last year during their Super Bowl championship run.

“Once you have guys here complaining or being bitter about not getting the ball enough or not making enough plays, that’s what causes the problems. We’ve had that here. We don’t have that here now. That’s why we’re 10-1.

“I’d rather have 53 guys who play like Pro Bowlers, regardless of whether they get into the Pro Bowl or not. That’s what our team is. We have 53 stars. Instead of having that one star-power guy, that guy that gets all the attention, all the love, every week reporters have somebody else to talk to, something else to write about. That’s good. That’s good for our whole team, because that means everybody’s shining. And if you’ve got your whole team shining, you can’t have nothing but a good team.”

--Antonio Pierce, NFL New York Giants' linebacker, discussing the team's continued success in 2008 after a Super Bowl victory last season.

“I love it completely. That’s what this thing is all about for me: team. Team.”

--Tom Coughlin, discussing his feelings about the New York Giants' success.


So, despite crises, multiple problems and adversity, the New York Giants continue to execute and win. So, what does this have to do with you and your business?

Well, it's official: the recession is real and has been since December 2007. Many experts suggest that we will be in this condition until at least 2010. The economy is a mess. In these times of turbulence, we can't wait for the government to take over or bail us out. Our customers have problems needing solutions. Our customers need to know that we have answers for them. They expect us to have products, services, processes, and expertise to help them to survive and make money. We have to demonstrate that we have what they need and most importantly that we can execute and make things happen. We have to communicate our value and our ability to perform when the opportunity arises. Most importantly. You can't wait for your customers to come to you. What do you need to do? What does 2009 hold for you and your business?

If you really want to succeed, you have to get down and dirty and execute. You must demonstrate your value to your customers when they need you most, show them that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Why does it seem so hard? Isn't there an easier more interesting way?

The problem is that we all think that we can be the top dog, the leader, the big enchilada. We want to be the go-to-guy, the CEO, the thinker. We imagine ourselves as strategists and visionaries. The big guy in the corner office is the one that get paid the most. We want to be paid and respected, even worshiped for our high-level thinking. It affirms us, stimulates our mind, validates us and our place in the universe. It fulfills the promise of our intelligence, the ability to anticipate change and make a difference in our business universe.

But, what is your business there for? You are needed, and expected, to provide a solution, tackle a problem, make something easier, better, or make a headache go away. However, everyone fancies themselves as the architect. Few of us what to pick up the the hammer and the nails and build the house. When you’re in business, your job is to offer a product, a process, a service or your expertise to a customer or a company that needs it. Someone has to make sure it gets done.

The key is to execute. In order to do that you have to be close to the customer and their business. To do that well is to understand what their business needs. And most of the time, what a business needs from you is execution. The bad news is, however that, execution is not exciting, it is not fun, it is not glamorous, it is hard, very hard. The truth is that execution isn’t sexy.

In this economic climate, the reality is that execution rules. Execution makes money. Execution drives the economy. Execution helps a business move forward. It allows businesses to make measurable progress against their goals. Of course, this is what businesses need to focus upon all the time, but especially when budgets and human resources are disappearing rapidly. Companies don’t necessarily need a new mission statement or an pie-in-the-sky three-year or five-year plan (most likely they already have one). Most of the time, a simple results-oriented mentality to make things happen is what is needed. It is what works.

The bottom lines is that the dirty work is taking care of the details. We can’t always be focusing on strategizing, planning, forecasting, and theorizing. Sometimes it’s time to shut up, and execute.

So, find resources, anticipate barriers, make a plan, train your team, make the plan happen, refine it, maintain it, evaluate it. Make sure your team is talking to each other and your customers. Make it clear that your company is willing to roll-up its sleeves for its customers.

Are you really committed to succeed? Are you willing to pay the price? Have you put together a team that understands and values execution. Your survival and profitability will depend on it.

Excerpts from the New York Times, 11/25 and 11/30/2008.
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