Which Skill is So Marketable?
What is that, you ask? What could possibly be the MOST marketable skill? EXECUTION. Execution comes in all flavors–marketing, IT, Project Management, Human Resources, strategy, operations, software, finance and on and on.
Organizations spend tons of time in developing a strategy and planning. This work is usually done by the leaders of organizations. They then communicate the strategy and the plan to the next several levels of the organization for execution. The problem is, the strategy and the execution of that strategy are rarely aligned. According to Professor Marco Iansit of Harvard Business School, “Strategy becomes the product of the firm’s incentives, structures, and patterns of behavior, not the other way around,” in his book, One Strategy: Organization, Planning, and Decision Making. In other words, the clarity that those who develop the strategy and the plan believe that they have gets lost quickly through the lenses of the “way things work” in the organization.
Why Organizations Need Execution Experts So Badly
Research says that more than seventy percent of large projects FAIL! Depending on who you ask, between 75% and 95% of new product launches fail. Email marketing campaigns have a four percent success rate. This makes it sound like we’re all incompetent. But we aren’t. We (most of us) work very hard trying to accomplish what the company needs/wants. We just aren’t working on the right things.
Those people who figure out how to execute–to actually deliver what the company needs–are highly valuable and very marketable, both within the organization and outside. To actually execute the tasks that need to happen for the organization to thrive takes everyone. It takes fully engaged, fully empowered employees who understand what needs to happen and are willing to do it–so they have to agree enough, believe in it enough, do enough to make it happen.
What Does It Take To Execute?
So what does this have to do with you? YOU have to engage. YOU have to be empowered. YOU have to do it. This is not about “them.” This is about you. If you want to have the most marketable skill, and the career security that goes with that, YOU have to learn how to execute. And how to get other people to execute. And you have to learn how to understand the strategy well enough to execute THE strategy, as opposed to some watered down version of it.
It doesn’t matter if you are at the top of the organization, in the middle, or if you just started yesterday. You need to learn how to understand clearly what needs to happen and then to do it WITH the other folks who you work with.
I’ve recently gotten to work on a string of successful projects. The difference between them and the ones that are late/over budget/don’t happen/completely fail is:
- They have a team of people who are committed to getting it done–no matter what gets in the way
- They have people who challenge things that are wrong–the way people are acting, the lack of resources, the lack of commitment, the inadequacy of the technology
- No one is on autopilot
- They have incredibly difficult deadlines
- Leaders are deeply involved in what is going on
Remember, when you can execute consistently and persistently, you pretty much don’t have to worry about where your next job is coming from. Companies will want you.
Good Books on Execution
- Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck
- Closing the Execution Gap: How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results by Richard Lepsinger
- The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble