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Best Execution

Folklore has it that when Henry Kissinger began as Secretary of State, people didn’t know quite how to deal with him. They buried him in impressive reports about all their projects including many pet projects. One man turned in a thick report and received it back from Dr. Kissinger with a note, “Is this your best work?” About 10 days later, he sent the report to Kissinger and received another note, “Can you do any better than this?” Such efforts went on for a couple more times and finally the man wrote a note saying, “Dr. Kissinger, this is absolutely the best work I am capable of doing.” He received a note from Kissinger saying, “Good. Now I’ll read it.” ( From Jerry McNellis, a nationally renowned meeting expert, in his new book , The Executive Decision Making System.)

I attend some of my client’s annual planning meetings and staff meetings. In those meetings many people make reports like the Kissinger staffer. They regurgitate numbers and detail the details about sales, projects, expenses, as if to justify their existence by the volume of their activities, complications of their world or cleverness of their PowerPoint.

Thank goodness there are a few people in each meeting who do the best they are capable of doing. You can’t help but notice them. They give a brief snapshot of the past. Then say something like this, “based on trends in the market, a current innovation, a competitor’s move , a weakness in my area, I recommended this plan”. A breathless stillness holds the room at full attention. The CEO grants a tell-me-more nod; finally an executable action instead of a lot of dull data and a few half baked ideas.

Several years ago Michael Dell said “Ideas are a commodity. Execution is not.” Execution has always been important, but rarely has it been a mandate for the survival of a business or career. In today’s world it is.

Journal Entry: Are you doing your best in your: Business, Career, Family, Faith? What one thing could you do in each area today that might make a real difference for the many tomorrows in your leadership and life?

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