Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

May 29, 2007 – I didn’t actually read this book, I listened to it. I found this neat little device at the bookstore, sort of like aniPod only smaller, that had the whole book on it. I believe this was a stroke of good fortune for me because the book is full of fairly weighty material. Listening to it as read by the authors – Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and their collaborator Charles Burck – made it much easier to digest I think. I started listening to it after Christmas while walking my dog in the early pre-dawn hours of the morning. Walking in the dark listening to this book was actually a wonderful experience. I enjoyed every minute of it.

The reviews on Amazon.com for this book tackle the concepts in wonderful depth and I have no desire to repeat what has already been written there. If you want several great summaries about the book, I suggest that site as an excellent resource.

Here’s what I came away with: dysfunction in organizations is not unique. This is something my new boss at the time kept telling me. Dave assured me that it was not any worse than many other privately owned large organizations he was familiar with. But I can tell you that when it’s your own organization, it just feels like it has to be worse than average.

Larry Bossidy was formerly from General Electric and Allied Signal, and came out of retirement to take the helm of Honeywell when their merger with GE failed to gel. He has a career’s worth of stories to tell. I really enjoy books that give lots of case studies, stories and examples to illustrate their points and theories. That is definitely a strength in this book. To listen to the authors is tell it themselves adds a great deal as well – they own their words and convey the message in a very compelling way. They clearly articulated the why, how and who of strategy execution – both well done and poorly done.

One of the reviewers on Amazon said this was a book that needed to be read more than once to really absorb it all, and I agree. I’m no longer with a large company and ponder whether I would ever choose to work for one again. It’s very frustrating to be in a position where I can see what needs to be done, but know that it’s not within my purview to affect change in a positive way. And that’s certainly something they cover very well in the book – having the right people in the right positions and aligning all aspects of a company’s strategy so that each supports the overall goals of the company. Execution is indeed a discipline and managers and corporate leadership need to excel in this regard. This book is an excellent primer on the subject.

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