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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
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...
Published on Jan. 22 2004 by Timothy Pierce

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tips for the CEOs and Group Heads of Large Conglomerates
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...
Published on June 12 2003 by Donald Mitchell


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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
By 
Timothy Pierce (Littleton, Co United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (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
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (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.
While some may see the content as too simplistic, those same people are usually unable to deliver results in the same manner as Bossidy did at GE, or Honeywell. The value of this book is both in content and style.
The book itself is never dry, is easy to read, flows smoothly in conversational format, and is highly engaging. Highly recommended to anyone in a business situation who wants to improve execution and results.
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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
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Tips for the CEOs and Group Heads of Large Conglomerates, June 12 2003
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (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. Bossidy reports that you could take execution for granted at GE, but that it was lacking at AlliedSignal when he arrived. The two coauthors alternate in providing long monologues on the chapter topics and subtopics.
Three aspects of Execution are valuable to almost any business leader: how to hold a strategy review (chapter 8), building an organization (chapter 5) and the "Dear Jane" letter to a new leader (conclusion).
For those who would like to become CEOs and heads of divisions of large, disparate organizations, Mr. Bossidy's many anecdotes from his experiences at Honeywell International about how to do the leader's job will provide a valuable model that can be used repeatedly. In many such organizations, there are no good leadership examples and this book can help fill the gap.
Here's the book's structure:
Part I: Why Execution Is Needed
Chapter 1. The Gap Nobody Knows
Chapter 2. The Execution Difference
Part II: The Building Blocks of Execution
Chapter 3. Building Block One: The Leader's Seven Essential Behaviors
Chapter 4. Building Block Two: Creating the Framework for Cultural Change
Chapter 5. Building Block Three: The Job No Leader Should Delegate -- Having the Right People in the Right Place
Part III: The Three Core Processes of Execution
Chapter 6. The People Process: Making the Link with Strategy and Operations
Chapter 7. The Strategy Process: Making the Link with People and Operations
Chapter 8. How to Conduct a Strategy Review
Chapter 9. The Operations Process: Making the Link with Strategy and People
Conclusion: Letter to a New Leader
Execution addresses these problems. First, many company and division heads have little knowledge about the businesses or the most important functions and processes needed to prosper. Boards, for example, often bring in a brilliant person who has performed as a "role player" elsewhere, and they cannot scale up into the CEO job. When a company has had poor leadership, its processes and organization also become weak and it's hard to get anything done. There are several poignant examples including Richard Thoman at Xerox and Richard McGinn at Lucent Technologies. It's hard to fix that problem. It took years at AlliedSignal and can be quickly lost (which happened in the two years after he retired the first time). That's why Mr. Bossidy had to come back to restore execution (as he means it) at Honeywell International. Lacking these perspectives, the business system is misdirected (see The Fifth Discipline).
Second, many leaders make bad assumptions about their circumstances. Acting on those assumptions makes matters worse.
Third, companies plan to pursue strategies for which they lack the processes and organizations to implement. The strategies need to match the ability to execute.
As a solution, you as leader must:
"--Know your people and your business
--Insist on realism
--Set clear goals and priorities
--Follow through
--Reward the doers
--Expand people's capabilities
--Know yourself."
I was uncomfortable with many of the examples. The unending praise of Dick Brown at EDS didn't seem to make any sense knowing that EDS's stock melted down and he was asked to leave. He was in big trouble when Execution was written, having encouraged his people to grow by taking on large unprofitable new accounts. It seems like he might have been executing the wrong strategy, one that couldn't be executed. Most of the "failure" examples are anonymous which makes them less credible and less compelling. Finally, Dell is heralded for executing very well (which it certainly does). However, in describing how the company has evolved its business model to outperform competitors, Execution fails to notice that its business model innovation has been essential to success. No competitor has this business model. Execution's assumption that everyone can have the same strategy ignores research that shows that business model innovation creates unique strategies and superior execution compared to making the old business model and strategy more efficient.
Unless you are shooting to be CEO of GE or Honeywell International, I suspect that you would do better to read Good to Great for getting ideas related to improving effectiveness.
After you finish this book, ask yourself what one thing you could improve would make the most difference in your organization's performance over the next week, month, quarter, year and three years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The discipline to execute, Aug. 6 2005
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Hardcover)
With all of the competing priorities in the business world today, I often find myself struggling to do everything that I plan. This is a very well-written business book that considers this specific challenge and lays out a roadmap to success. It was very helpful and I recommend it highly.
"The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book" is another title I recommend for this same challenge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for serious business officers, July 12 2004
By 
"herve58" (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Hardcover)
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. It helps focusing on the essential and provides a template for structuring a business for success. I believe that it can be adapted to any venture.
I recommend it because of its simplicity and connection to reality. If you have managed operations, you will appreciate this down-to-earth layout of how to steadily drive your business or evaluate another business. Use that approach and you are above 99% of the business crowd out there. I am grateful.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Astute yet partial, Dec 11 2010
By 
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Hardcover)
Mr. Bossidy and Mr. Ram share their experiences and insights leading and implementing strategy projects in several Forbes 500 organizations. The bottom-line is that Execution is a complex discipline but key for any company's success. In this book the authors present through storytelling some great tools and real cases to teach us how to get things done successfully. People, Strategy and Operations are the core issues described, and the approach is: 1) set achievable goals 2) work a visible action plan and 3) document results. Although some of the elements described are pure common-sense, some others may surprise you.

While rich with great examples involving top decision-makers of different MNCs, the book lacks samples/strategies applied by smaller companies or the middle management - who most of the time face different challenges and have limited resources. Thus, while the theory in the book is valuable, some of its practicality could be lost for the small manager/entrepreneur. That's the only reason I give it a 4/5 stars.

What follows is a highlight of the key points covered in the book:

* "Execution is the greatest unaddressed issue in the business world today... the single biggest obstacle to success.... a specific set of behaviors and techniques... the critical discipline for success... the primary differentiator between companies..."

* Execution is defined as "a systematic discipline of exposing reality and acting on it". Thus, the leader's 7 essential behaviour is:

1. Know your people and your business. Engage in active involvement/personal connection and in distilling the challenges facing the business or business units into few (perhaps less than 6) fundamental issues
2. Insist on realism. Practicality is the heart of execution, thus it's about doing what works and stopping what isn't, about people changing or not, about further investing or moving on
3. Set clear goals and priorities. Focus on very few clear priorities that everyone can grasp, top 3/4 that will produce the best results from the resources at hand
4. Follow through. Don't set goals if you don't plan to check on
5. Reward the doers. Measure the results and then reward/promote people who generated them
6. Expand people's capabilities through coaching. Coaching, which is teaching people how to get things done instead of simply giving orders, is the single most important part of expanding other's capabilities
7. Know yourself. Find and exercise authenticity, awareness, self-mastery and humility

* Create a Framework for Cultural Change by linking it to business outcomes:

1. Cultural change gets real only when your aim is execution
2. You need to change people's behaviour so that they can produce results
3. First state the results you are looking for, just after discuss how to get them
4. Reward people for getting the results or provide additional coaching when they don't

* How your corporate culture should look like:

1. It needs to be grounded in execution and results
2. Communications, meetings, emails, reports, etc. should be represented and described into actions
3. Change process behaviourally based, translating thoughts and dialogue into action and closure

* Execution, the job of the leader, is exercising (not delegating) the development of people/leaders, forging a strategic direction and conducting operations. Thus, it requires active management of:

1. People; select and keep the right individuals for the job, direct link strategy to performance/results, and help them develop the leadership skills to sustain the organization
2. Strategy; develop a customer/market accurate actionable plan (6 or fewer building blocks) for allocating resources and defining how to achieve the business objectives. It relies upon a process of rigor and tenacious probing, testing of ideas and business realities and investment in picking and developing a plan and the people who can execute it
3. Operations processes; breaking long term objectives into short-term, measurable, reviewed plan with short term targets, action steps and tasks

* The People Process means no leader should delegate having the right people in place, and have the courage to confront results promptly and take decisive action with non-performers, versus comfort based decisions. "The people process is more important than either the strategy or operations process... its evaluating people accurately and in-depth, then identifying and developing talent... or filling the leadership pipeline"
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good advice, May 25 2004
By 
GEORGE R. FISHER (Boston MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Hardcover)
The primary value of this book is its emphasis on "management" as being the primary focus of successful business leaders. Far too many business books talk in flowery terms about strategy and enablement, and relegate the management function of execution to lower ranks than those occupied by their enlightened readers.
This book has its priorities right and for that reason can be recommended to those who wish to make a difference. A criticism might be that the advice given requires considerably less than the 278 pages devoted to it.
... and what is that advice?
Primarily, of course, it is to focus on accomplishing one's objectives rather than trumpeting them. Seemingly obvious but the fog of emotional involvement in difficult and fast-paced business situations can make even the most experienced and level-headed business leaders lose their bearings. And, of course, there's always hubris.
1. Know your business, internally and externally, in detail
2. Know your people intimately
3. Make your objectives clear, few, simple and realistic
4. Reward achievement of the explicit objectives and no others
5. Know yourself and subordinate your ego; eat your own cooking
6. Good people are everything
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simple Wisdom But Profound, March 10 2004
By 
Andrew J. Guinosso "The Florentine" (Reno, Nevada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Hardcover)
The book that Messrs. Bossidy and Charan have co-authored is a unique blend of practical advice and real business experiences drawn from several industries. It is especially powerful because it is superbly structured, easy to read, and free of jargon. There are many important messages in the book, almost one on every page. The key message is that corporate management has three principal goals: picking other leaders, setting strategic direction, and conducting operations. I believe that companies and organizations can use many of the ideas in this book to re-shape their thinking and to help change their corporate cultures and processes. In my years in corporate management, I came to recognize that the most important leadership challenge is that of identifying, developing, and selecting the future leadership team for a company. Picking great leaders can be a real challenge for any company and for any leader. I encourage all leaders to read this important book and to use it as a catalyst for change. There is much to be learned from this book and much to be reflected upon. Simple but profound.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Academic Attraction or Large Company/Consultants, Jan. 21 2004
By 
This review is from: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Hardcover)
I think there are two ways to view this book.
The people down in the trenches in the smaller businesses already are acutely aware that execution is important. Failure to execute the business plan and operations means that the payroll is not met and there will surely be irate telephone calls from customers or vendors or both - and quickly. So we (and I include myself) in the world of the smaller entrepreneur have less need for this book. Getting the orders and executing are what drives one to the office or plant every day, day in and day out. Priorities and plans are reviewed weekly and in some cases daily in a changing market. So for them they are not impressed with the book. One never hires anyone without doing it personally in smaller firms.
Having said that one observes from the book and some of the reviews that many managers are involved more in planning and conceptual studies or finding great ideas and then matching those ideas to people and resources in their company. They spend a lot of time managing people and the whole strategic process. So I think the book is probably more suitable to a larger company or for consultants. I see some comparisons with the Collins book "Good to Great" which I think is just a so so book for people in smaller firms that are still trying to establish themselves or are in niche markets. Again I think that the book is ultimately geared for larger companies or consultants.
So I think there will be two strong reactions to the book and the buyer must decide if they need more reminders and guidance for executing, while the smaller business person needs less of this type of book. Personally I still prefer to Read Jack Welch' s book "Straight from the Gut" since it has more examples with a good dose of color and excitement. Plus the Welch book communicates an energetic and dynamic personailty which is one reason why he was a success, if not the main reason.
So I think just 3 or 4 stars.
Jack in Toronto
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Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Ram Charan (Hardcover - June 4 2002)
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