Why Does Your Team’s Execution Fail?

I just finished leading a management training session for one of my clients on, “Execution: The Art and Science of Transforming Intention into Reality.” And the one section that probably had the most discussion for us as a group was my first point on realizing why good strategies, tactics and projects often fail in their implementation.

In other words, before someone starts adding something to the mix to improve execution/implementation, they should first eliminate some of the things that are currently hindering successful implementation. As a typical INTJ, I had a list of 15 hindrances in my notes, but to encourage some more group interaction I decided to ask the leader/managers present to break into groups of three to four people and come up with their own lists of items or issues that hinder execution in their company.

Without betraying confidences, I’m going to combine some of their ideas with some of mine to help get your brain kick started. For example,

  • Too many “priorities“ (or conflicting priorities)
  • Lack of specificity on the details of who’s responsible for what
  • Not enough communication (or unclear communication)
  • Lack of trust
  • Interruptions
  • Poor prioritization of what matters
  • Departmental conflicts
  • Lack of accountability
  • Fear of accountability
  • Limited people/resources
  • Lack of personal responsibility/commitment
  • The complexity of a project (or its size)
  • Lack of executive attention
  • A tendency to over-analyze (analysis paralysis)
  • Lack of ownership
  • Lack of excitement about the project, etc.

Now, think about this. If some of these issues are present in your organization, what do you think the probability is that your people are going to execute well? Probably somewhere between zero and nil. It just isn’t going to happen.

Therefore, one of the first places to make changes, if you want to make sure that your team executes better, is to eliminate some of those hindrances. And what I’d recommend is to take this question to your team,

”What hinders us, as a team and company, from executing better and faster?“

Have them brainstorm, while someone writes their ideas on an easel pad (my guess is that ideas will come rather fast and furious–after all, they’ve been thinking about these for years :-). Then, once you have a list, discuss what are the top three hindrances that, if eliminated, would have the greatest impact on increasing our ability to execute.

Then I’d take that list and work, as a team, on creating a plan to eliminate your top three hindrances from your company/organization (i.e. don’t try to fix everything at once. Start with a few items and then expand as you eliminate the current “three”).

Remember, execution doesn’t have to be rocket science. But it does have to be done. So make the list, reduce the list, and then start eliminating the items on the list. Because it’s going to be difficult to create an environment/culture of execution when there are a number of hindrances competing to ensure that execution doesn’t happen.

To your accelerated success!

P.S. You did make that list, didn’t you?

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