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Posted March 28, 2011 by johnspence

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Over the past several years I have had calls from a number of companies that have requested me to come in and help them with “serious issues and problems.” When I arrive there is typically a group of senior leaders huddled in a meeting discussing what should be done. They will tell me that the problem is costing them tens of thousands… millions… or tens of millions of dollars – and it is a “top priority” to get it fixed as soon as possible!!!!!

I will then work with the team to create a strategy for going forward, outline several critical steps, and identify some key data that needs to be collected and reviewed before the next meeting. Several weeks later we will gather again to review progress only for me to find out that… NOTHING has been done. No data has been collected, no decisions have been made, none of the strategies were pursued, and most importantly… no one is being held accountable for not doing ANY of the work we outlined in the last meeting. It is as if they think simply getting together and talking about the problem – is the same as actually working on the problem! Well, it is NOT.

The next time you find yourself in a similar situation here are a few questions to keep in mind that will help you and your team make sure that the meeting actually leads to real, significant and positive results.

10 Key Questions for Ensuring Effective Execution

1. Do we have an extremely clear and vivid vision for exactly what the desired outcome is?

2. Have we identified clear, specific, measurable, quantifiable goals and objectives that will specifically indicate that the appropriate progress is being made?

3. Have we assigned clear responsibility to one individual or a specific team that absolutely understands that they will be held accountable for achieving the desired results?

4. Have specific and firm deadlines been created and communicated to ensure that everyone knows exactly what is due and when it is due?

5. Does the individual/team have all of the resources, time, support, equipment, training, budget… and AUTHORITY to deliver the desired results?

6. Is there a process for tracking and sharing ALL of the critical data and specific performance measurements to all involved parties as the project moves forward?

7. Is there a process for ensuring that achieving the desired results for this project are part of every meeting, on every agenda, and are discussed often to ensure that achieving the goals and objectives are on “top of mind” at all times?

8. Is there a clear reward/punishment system in place so that the person or people who are being held accountable for delivering the desired results clearly understand what is at stake?

9. Is there an individual or team who clearly understands that they are accountable for holding the person or team that is supposed to do this project accountable. In other words, if the project begins to slip, who specifically has the authority to step in and get things back on track?

10. Is there a system in place to review the success or failure of the project after it is finished, so that the organization can learn from their triumphs or mistakes and use those lessons to improve their ability to execute with discipline on the next critical project?

The list above is by no means complete, but if you can go down all 10 of these items and answer “Yes” with great confidence, I am pretty sure that you are doing a good job of creating the circumstances necessary for high levels of accountability and effective execution within your organization.

*** By the way, creating a culture of disciplined execution and high levels of accountability is so critical that several of my key clients such as Abbott Laboratories, Apple and the Mayo Clinic have recently asked me to put together a program specifically on that topic. I have blended the contents from my Creating a Winning Culture workshop with elements from my Coaching for Accountability and High-Performance Teams workshops to build a new program that focuses on instilling an “Ownership Mentality” across the organization so that people hold themselves both personally and mutually accountable for ensuring that the organization is highly effective in achieving the goals and objectives that have been established and delivering the required results. I will keep you in the loop about what I am learning from delivering this new workshop!

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