Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Elements of Execution

an article by Reed Dillon

Sports analogies come easy when comparing to business. In this blog I will attempt to draw a correlation between my passion, college basketball and business execution. 

My team is the Xavier Musketeers (that is pronounced Zavier not Eggavier). I have followed since the 80’s. Chris Mack has been the head coach of the team for the past 7 years. As head coach he has a win/loss record of 162-77, .678 W-L%. The team just came off of a great 28-6 season before falling to Wisconsin in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

A basketball team before playing an opponent will do research and have a detailed scouting report on their plays and tendencies. Leading up to the game the team will try to mimic what the opposing team will do in a game situation. The coaches will come up with a disciplined strategy and game plan that they intend to execute pursuant to trying to win the game. All members of the team will have their roles to play in order for the strategy to be effective. They will practice that strategy over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Chris Mack divides the 40 minutes of regulation time in a basketball game into 4 minute segments. The goal is to win each 4 minute segment and if properly executed will ultimately end in the team prevailing in the game. Of course adjustments are made throughout the game to allow for perceived failings and improvements. Individual players will be held accountable for their position play and execution of the game plan and will be either rewarded with more playing time or be benched.

Win or lose, after the game films will be reviewed, discussions will be had among the coaches and a analysis of the statistics will be made. Further an evaluation of the viability of the strategy and game plan will be accessed and measured.  

In what I just described there are stark similarities to business execution in general.

Research: Know your business environment. Who is your target market?  What are competitions tendencies? What are their stats? Why are they getting market share that you are not? Where do they dominate? What are their product and service advantages and disadvantages? What are their star products?

Strategy: Now armed with this information how may you exploit your competitions deficiencies? The strategy will take place in a unified plan. You may employ multiple strategies to gain advantage and defeat your opponent.

Discipline: Strategies and plans are worthless unless you apply the necessary discipline to carry them out. Be tenacious, a disciplined attitude must be carried out on all levels of your organization. By-in is a must and it should be demonstrated from the top down. Without by-in the strategy will likely fall flat.

Time: Given we had all the time in the world almost anything could be made close to perfect. The fact is time is always a factor and deadlines must be observed. Timelines are established to accomplish goals as benchmarks. The project or plan is executed in small chunks versus a whole. A regulation college basketball game is 40 minutes - no more, no less. Deadlines are made to be met.  

Accountability: Without accountability there is no responsibility or priority. All momentum is lost and time and effort is squandered. There is no execution. So it goes without saying accountability is very important and it must be made a priority by not just managers but by everyone involved.

Measurement: In a basketball game the ultimate measurement is in the final score but coaches also look through a myriad statistics both for the team and individuals. The same is true the execution of a strategy. Stay away from anecdotal information and rely on data. This could take the form of tracking sales records to drilling down on website analytics, etc… Keep to the facts, evaluate and improve to become more competitive.      

I love writing  about two of my favorite subjects Marketing and Basketball (not necessarily in that order).

In my experience you can have some the best plans and strategies around but unless you are able to execute it is all pie in the sky. Execution is central to accomplishing any business project or plan.

I welcome hearing your thoughts regarding Business Execution. Feel free to post your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

ABOUT Reed Dillon - Reed Dillon is the owner of Creative Brand Content, - a marketing consulting company and, a subscription blog service for builders. Reed has spent nearly two decades heading the marketing departments of some of the industry’s leading modular manufacturers and earning numerous national marketing awards. Contact can be made at or by phone at 540-488-2978.  

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