Category: Execution

Allies,
NOT Enemies

I have recently written a 172-page manuscript, inspired by several tweetstreams. Not sure whether or not it was a single tweet or something else that got me going, but get me going it did!

I am, in short, appalled by most of the "change management" literature. In a word, it's 99% (or so it feels) negative.

"Overcoming resistance to change."
"Dealing with objections."
"Vanguishing foes."
Etc.
Etc.

In a word: RUBBISH!

The change process need not be negative. Indeed, when it is, it is rarely or ever successful.

The issue and opportunity, briefly addressed here, is the recruitment and nurturing of ... ALLIES.

My message:

Forget ENEMIES.
Make FRIENDS.

Action!
#1: 1982
#1: 2014

An old topic from me. Yet always new. That is, ripe for improvement or at least monitoring. Namely "A Bias For Action." The #1 of eight "Basics of Excellence" from In Search of Excellence in 1982. And even more important today as the pace of change accelerates. This is less about "ideas to implement" than about a cultural trait that must be instilled and assiduously maintained.

PDF: New Action Summary

"1/47"

I frequently say, "I've only learned one thing 'for sure' in the 47 years since I started doing 'this stuff.'" (The 1966 staring point goes back to my U.S. Navy Seabee days in Vietnam.) The term "for sure" is meaningful; as a scientist by disposition, I don't believe as a matter of course in "for sures." So this exception is a big deal—to me.

And that one for-sure thing is ...

WTTMSW.

Or, to clarify ... Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.

In Search of Excellence was constructed around "eight basics." And the first was "A Bias for Action." As we said then, and it's become more true over time as the pace of change accelerates: Big Business's #1 problem is "too much talk, too little do." To bring the In Search message up to date, I just came across an ad for an Economist conference. The conference title: "Redefining the Speed of Business: CAN YOUR BUSINESS FAIL FAST ENOUGH TO SUCCEED?" In fact, my WTTMSW has a fuller alternative: WTTMSASUTMSTFW. Whoever Tries The Most Stuff And Screws Up The Most Stuff The Fastest Wins.

At any rate, FYI, I've included here a wee paper I did on this "1/47" topic.

Enjoy ...

Getting Stuff
(That Matters)
Done

A new short form ebook is now available thanks to our friends at New Word City. It's called Getting Stuff (That Matters) Done and it's all about execution. You certainly can't be Excellent if you're not getting anything done. So read the ebook and get started!

HCA Addendum

Attached is "Systems Have Their Place: SECOND Place." It is directly related to my remarks concerning the absolute necessity of "culture change" to address intractable hospital problems such as patient safety.

Herewith the paper's origin: This essay indirectly stems from the current American presidential primaries. Two candidates suggested that the Department of Defense's wasteful ways could be curbed by ordering the adoption of "6-sigma management." Having put in two years of Pentagon duty as a naval officer (1969-1970), I was struck by the hilarity of such a notion; I'd observed the "adoption" of miracle systems before in the DOD (PPBS/Program Planning and Budgeting System, the brainchild of SECDEF Robert McNamara), and watched their inevitable byproducts—more bureaucracy and more waste. Moreover, ideas like this, and the issues associated therewith, are near the heart of my last 35 years of professional work. Hence, with some outside urging, and with no political axe to grind on this score, I prepared this brief paper.

Download the PDF.

The Little BIG Things
Synopsis Series
#24 Change
#25 Charlie Wilson’s War

It's time for two new sections in The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series. The next two sections in The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence are titled "Change" and "Special Section: Charlie Wilson's War." In Change, Tom proposes a few perhaps unexpected ways of thinking about how to make change. The Special Section presents lessons in getting things done learned from Charlie Wilson's War.

You can download free pdfs of those sections from The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series* by clicking below:

#24 Change
#25 Special Section: Charlie Wilson's War

*The Synopsis Series is an adaptation that gives you a taste of the BIG idea in each of the 163 Little BIG Things. More information on the book can be found on this page. The Synopsis Series as released thus far can be found here.

The Little BIG Things
Synopsis Series
#19 Equations

It's time for a new section in The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series. The next section in The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence is a Special Section titled "The Equations: An Engineer's View of the Secrets of Effective Implementation." In it, Tom lists the things you can do to "boost your odds of success at implementing damn near anything."

You can download a free pdf of this section from The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series* by clicking below:

#19 Equations

*The Synopsis Series is an adaptation that gives you a taste of the BIG idea in each of the 163 Little BIG Things. More information on the book can be found on this page. The Synopsis Series as released thus far can be found here.

The Little BIG Things
Synopsis Series
#7 Recession46
#8 Self

It's time for two new sections in The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series. The next two sections in The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence are titled "Special Section: The Recession 46" and "Self." The Special Section offers strategies for coping with the economic crisis. The "Self" section focuses on adjusting your attitude and working on your story, things that elevate your personal brand.

You can download free pdfs of those sections from The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series* by clicking below:
#7 Special Section: The Recession 46
#8 Self

*The Synopsis Series is an adaptation that gives you a taste of the BIG idea in each of the 163 Little BIG Things. More information on the book can be found on this page. The Synopsis Series as released thus far can be found here.

Practice

A commenter named Norman Wei recently asked Cathy if Tom rehearsed repeatedly before getting in front of the camera for one of his videos. We were pretty sure we knew the answer, but checked with Tom. Here's what he said:

"There's less of an easy answer than you'd imagine. I do not rehearse in the formal sense. On the other hand, I come close to staying up all night before a speech going over my slides—over and over and over. Perhaps over 100 times???? Of course I formally modify the slides, to the point of de-emphasizing one word and emphasizing (italics) another. But as I go through the slides I am also sub-consciously, semi-consciously going through phrasing I might use. So in a way it's damn near rehearsal, though you're also right in that the main rehearsal is 3,000 or so speeches over about 31 years."

My Kinda Guy!

Several Sunday papers reviewed Neil Sheehan's A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon. It's a "one guy against the world" story of the first order. Schriever either did a very good thing or a very questionable thing, depending on the reviewer. But what he did was clear. Against very powerful forces, such as bomber maniac and Strategic Air Command boss Curtis LeMay, Schriever proposed and developed, more or less singlehandedly, America's ICBM capability—mainstay of our defense ever since.

It is a story of a "good strategic idea" (in the real world context of the Cold War) and overcoming immense technical-engineering challenges.

But that's not why I'm writing this.

As most of you know, I think political skill is as important or more important than brilliance. And Schriever, a talented engineer, was an Uber-master Politican. The forces lined up against him amount to a list as long as your arm, with most of those named having far more rank than Schriever. Yet he prevailed—eventually convincing one of the most pragmatic people ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Dwight David Eisenhower.

Want to accomplish something, any-damn-thing?
Sharpen your political skills!
(And this holds for a 24-year-old non-manager working on her small part of a project almost as much as it did for Bernard Schriever.)