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Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done [Hardcover]

Larry Bossidy , Ram Charan
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 4 2002
The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job

Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

After a long, stellar career with General Electric, Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world’s most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. Accomplishments such as 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more didn’t just happen; they resulted from the consistent practice of the discipline of execution: understanding how to link together people, strategy, and operations, the three core processes of every business.

Leading these processes is the real job of running a business, not formulating a “vision” and leaving the work of carrying it out to others. Bossidy and Charan show the importance of being deeply and passionately engaged in an organization and why robust dialogues about people, strategy, and operations result in a business based on intellectual honesty and realism.

The leader’s most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated. As a CEO, Larry Bossidy personally makes the calls to check references for key hires. Why? With the right people in the right jobs, there’s a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies that can be executed. People then work together to create a strategy building block by building block, a strategy in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. Once the right people and strategy are in place, they are then linked to an operating process that results in the implementation of specific programs and actions and that assigns accountability. This kind of effective operating process goes way beyond the typical budget exercise that looks into a rearview mirror to set its goals. It puts reality behind the numbers and is where the rubber meets the road.

Putting an execution culture in place is hard, but losing it is easy. In July 2001 Larry Bossidy was asked by the board of directors of Honeywell International (it had merged with AlliedSignal) to return and get the company back on track. He’s been putting the ideas he writes about in Execution to work in real time.

Frequently Bought Together

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done + Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't + The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
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From Amazon

Disciplines like strategy, leadership development, and innovation are the sexier aspects of being at the helm of a successful business; actually getting things done never seems quite as glamorous. But as Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan demonstrate in Execution, the ultimate difference between a company and its competitor is, in fact, the ability to execute.

Execution is "the missing link between aspirations and results," and as such, making it happen is the business leader's most important job. While failure in today's business environment is often attributed to other causes, Bossidy and Charan argue that the biggest obstacle to success is the absence of execution. They point out that without execution, breakthrough thinking on managing change breaks down, and they emphasize the fact that execution is a discipline to learn, not merely the tactical side of business. Supporting this with stories of the "execution difference" being won (EDS) and lost (Xerox and Lucent), the authors describe the building blocks--leaders with the right behaviors, a culture that rewards execution, and a reliable system for having the right people in the right jobs--that need to be in place to manage the three core business processes of people, strategy, and operations. Both Bossidy, CEO of Honeywell International, Inc., and Charan, advisor to corporate executives and author of such books as What the CEO Wants You to Know and Boards That Work, present experience-tested insight into how the smooth linking of these three processes can differentiate one company from the rest. Developing the discipline of execution isn't made out to be simple, nor is this book a quick, easy read. Bossidy and Charan do, however, offer good advice on a neglected topic, making Execution a smart business leader's guide to enacting success rather than permitting demise. --S. Ketchum

From Library Journal

Bossidy, an award-winning executive at General Electric and Allied Signal, came out of retirement to tend to Honeywell (and bring it back to prominence) after it failed to merge with General Electric. Charan has taught at Harvard and Kellogg Business Schools. Collaborating with editor and writer Burck, they present the viewpoint that execution (that is, linking a company's people, strategy, and operations) is what will determine success in today's business world. Bossidy and Charan aver that execution is a discipline integral to strategy, that it is the major job of any business leader hoping not just to be a success but to dominate a market, and that it is a core element of corporate culture. Details of both successful and unsuccessful executions at corporations such as Dell, Johnson & Johnson, and Xerox, to name a few, support not only their how-to method for bringing execution to the forefront but also the need for it. Each author addresses specific topics in paragraphs that begin with either "Larry" or "Ram," and this easy style adds to the appeal of a very readable book. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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LARRY: My job at Honeywell International these days is to restore the discipline of execution to a company that had lost it. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - As far as it goes Jan. 22 2004
Format:Hardcover
Execution is a fresh of breath air, especially after reading so many business books about 'vision', where the entire book is all 'vision' and no 'substance'. The two authors of the book do know something about creating realistic plans, linking actual operational considerations with goals for achievement, and getting down to a real rubber-meets-the-road approach to planning. In fact, the later chapters about creating strategic plans and tying those plans to the operating plan and budget in a realistic manner are, in my opinion, by far the best the book has to offer, and make the book well worth the read.
Where I wish they had broadened the scope of the book is to cover effective execution at lower layers of the corporate hierarchy - almost the entire book takes place at, and really applies to, the CEO/EVP/VP level of fortune 500 companies. It rarely if ever covers strategies that work for managers of smaller busines units or groups, or who work in smaller companies. In both cases, the strategies in this book, while still being valuable as theory, lose their practical value. It becomes clear as you read the book that the authors have no real experience with those levels/companies, and I think the book suffers for it.
Overall, I think this book is worth the read, but I can't bring myself to give it five stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that Jack should have written. July 9 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is perhaps one of the best business books I have ever read. Unlike many books which use extensive academia and complex formulas which rarely see the light of day or work well outside of a controlled environment, this book is simple. That said this simplicity can be a bit deceiving. When I worked for GE, as did Bossidy and Jack Welch, the concepts which turned that business into a global leader in industry were remarkably simple. It wasn't the simplicity of the ideas, but rather the ability to get a hundred thousand people executing flawlessly on them that makes the difference.
In the book Bossidy describes how he personally would ensure execution occurs within his businesses. Start with the right people. Too many times we assume people are merely interchangeable cogs, but great business leaders who get results know differently. Chapter 5 discusses the responsibility and focus required to ensure the right people are in the right jobs. Even as a CEO he spent up to 40% of his time on developing and hiring the right people.
Another interesting aspect is the ability to speak directly and level set expectations and have a firm grasp on reality, regardless of how painful that reality may be at the time. Throughout the book is example after example that illustrates the value of direct conversation and clear feedback and communication. As you read the book, look for not only the content of what is discussed, but how it is discussed. Nearly always the method is to truly listen and engage people in a dialog which will set expectations, and ensure misunderstandings or mixed messages are limited. This allows people to focus on what needs to be done instead of being distracted with politics and other non value added issues.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good, but not great Jan. 15 2006
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book does a good job of identifying the processes involved in executing strategy. A real plus of the book is the considerable experience that both authors bring to the table. One negative aspect is the extensive use of "storytelling" by the two authors. While some of these antedotes are useful, many having the feeling of "I told you so's". While I would recommend this book, I certainly wouldn't tailor my organizations strategy around it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Larry Bossidy is clearly a five-star leader, and Ram Charan is a gifted consultant and teacher. It surprised me that their book didn't work as well as I had hoped.
Execution's title confused me. Hopefully, you won't have that problem. I thought Execution would be all about how to take a strategy and operating plan and implement them well. Instead, Part III makes it clear that Execution is about meeting overall financial objectives through being an effective organization in setting strategies and operating plans to serve customers well while building an organization that can implement the plans for outperforming competitors. Part I, by contrast, makes it sound like Execution is only about implementation, noting that almost all organizations have the same strategies (or can quickly get them from consultants), access the same top talent and can easily acquire and employ competitively effective innovation.
I also thought Execution would apply to all business people. Instead, the context for most of the AlliedSignal (Honeywell International's name when Mr. Bossidy became CEO there the first time) and General Electric examples which dominate the book is that of the CEO or group executive to whom divisions report in a large conglomerate. In this sense, Execution is like reading the latter chapters of Mr. Welch's book, Jack.
The main difference between Jack and Execution is that Execution tries to build a framework for the book's concepts while sharing examples (mostly of failure) from other organizations. Mr. Charan's sections of the book mostly focus on that positioning. Mr. Bossidy mostly tells about his own experiences at AlliedSignal and Honeywell. Mr. Bossidy, of course, worked with Mr. Welch at General Electric for many years. Mr.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have book
I saw this book in a LEAN conference training and among a large amount of business books related to business management , this one oriented CEO approach is one of the best books i... Read more
Published on April 30 2012 by Alain
4.0 out of 5 stars Astute yet partial
Mr. Bossidy and Mr. Ram share their experiences and insights leading and implementing strategy projects in several Forbes 500 organizations. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2010 by Adrian Bachmann
4.0 out of 5 stars A Relevant and Easy Read
This book identifies a road block to company success - failure to execute. Through their experience and case studies, the authors provide readers with a practical and realistic map... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2010 by Jennifer Wenzel
5.0 out of 5 stars Execution Excellence!
Get things done - this item will most certianly help anyone in a business role execute the necessary activities to allow their Company and themselves to prosper. Read more
Published on March 30 2010 by Ron Walder
5.0 out of 5 stars A definition of Execution - Reality
The authors make their case clearly for reality based decision making. What is outstanding is the fact that that few of our major institutions have such success - GE being a prime... Read more
Published on March 3 2009 by DanZwicker
5.0 out of 5 stars The discipline to execute
With all of the competing priorities in the business world today, I often find myself struggling to do everything that I plan. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2005 by Bob Loretta
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic Knowledge...
A lot of materials in this book can be found in my 1st year management course in University of Toronto textbook... Read more
Published on May 19 2005 by Jack
2.0 out of 5 stars Standard business consulting verbiage
I was hoping that this was a down-to-earth book with interesting and useful ideas like Built to Last or No Excuses Management. Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by John Lacey
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for serious business officers
The principles of the book helped us move our stock from $1 to $6 in 2 years. I not only like the book, I now use it as a tool for my consulting business. Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by "herve58"
4.0 out of 5 stars A must buy....
By the time you gone through the first few chapters, and wonder when are we going to learn on how to execute, you suddenly realise that the writers just decided that from this... Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by "shesha"
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