A great idea, innovation, excellence, and many things in life have a “window of opportunity”.
Timely action and executing the right plan in the window of opportunity are key to success.
To achieve extraordinary results, you will need the right plan, the proper preparation/planning, discipline, meticulous execution and the other factors described in this series. But too often, the one element that people/teams get hung-up on is “execution”… you must take timely ACTION. Too often people get “paralysis by analysis”, and fail to execute in a timely manner. In today’s fast-paced world, you must execute in a very timely manner, or you will miss your window of opportunity. Innovation and things that can provide you a competitive advantage typically have a tight window of opportunity, and once others are doing the same thing, you start losing the advantage.
A window of opportunity applies to everyone, including market-leaders. Apple’s first iPhone was innovative, which provided them a competitive advantage at that time. The next innovative version of the iPhone was released a year later, and also was perceived to be innovative. But over time, competitors caught up and produced competitive products that caught the attention of many smartphone buyers. Those competitors also started releasing their new phones on a more frequent basis in order to be the first to market with the new, innovative features. As a result Apple’s “window of opportunity” is now being squeezed, and they will be challenged to shorten their action plans and execute in a more timely manner.
Information technology organizations are also being squeezed to deliver more timely results. Years ago, it was common for information technology projects, such as software development or a global ERP implementation, to take 12 to 18 months... but not any more. With the availability of quickly deployed, cloud-services, low-cost, easy to acquire apps, and more solutions that can solve a business need in timely manner, technology users demand a timely solution and timely action. Leaders must adapt and adjust to be successful.
Seizing the moment: Michael Jordan was a great basketball player, but if he never took a shot, he wouldn't have achieved excellence. And if his shots weren't on target, or poorly timed, or not aligned with the game plan, he would have failed. He understood the importance of “seizing the moment”, and executing the right actions at the right time.
Executing as a team: Even with Michael Jordan's extraordinary talent, he understood the importance of the overall team and each member playing their role. And they knew that the team had to execute better than the competition, in order to win. Steve Jobs was a brilliant, innovative man, but his achievements at Apple were accomplished with a great team around him. He knew the importance of assembling the right talent, leveraging that talent, taking action and meticulously executing as a team.
Often, when I’ve been engaged as a trusted Advisor to diagnose and transform under-performing teams or failing projects, at the core of the issues is a lack of proper, timely execution. Their decisions are getting bogged down in numerous, ongoing committee meetings, and/or there is a lack of decisive, effective leadership. While a solid plan is definitely necessary, you have to find balance, and the leader must know when to move from the phase of planning, analysis, feedback gathering, consensus building, etc., and move things forward with a decisive actions and timely execution.
If your idea, project or organization is bogged down, consider bringing in a proven performance catalyst that can quickly help you evaluate the situation and find the solution to move things forward. Even with the most talented and capable leaders, when you are there in the situation day after day, it is easy to get consumed, and a fresh perspective and the voice of an unbiased, external, trusted Advisor can be just the catalyst needed to move forward and achieve timely, excellent results.
This article is part 4 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here.
Mark Johnson is the Chief Executive at Xtrii. He is an award-winning, global CIO, CTO, CEO and business leader. For more than 30 years he has helped some of the world's best organizations achieve extraordinary success. For more details visit his LinkedIn profile or follow him on Twitter @johnsonme.