What is the Greatest Roadblock to Individual and Company Success?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO
What is the greatest roadblock to individual and company success? Is it creativity, great people, resources, available cash, new markets, new customers, or a bad economic climate? Although all of these can be significant roadblocks, the greatest is none of these. In my opinion, it is execution.
Do you know which company was instrumental in developing digital photography? It was Kodak. But, Kodak failed to transition and execute a strategy to build a digital business while its existing business – film photography – was so exceedingly profitable. In fact, a study of Fortune 500 companies over the last century confirms one undeniable fact – 100% of current revenues will fail. If the company does not change, it will be bought out or go out of business. And, it can occur in five years or less. If positive change to secure new markets, new customers, new products or new lines of business are to succeed, what is necessary? Execution.
The answer is so obvious that too many leaders and individuals miss it. Most say, “well of course we need to execute our plans!” However, most new initiatives fail. Yes, most new marketing plans, products, businesses, and internal change efforts fail. In some way, it’s related to execution. And, with the speed of change in today’s global market, this can be deadly.
So, what do leaders need to do? What should our plan of action be? It all starts by being committed to imperfect actions. As G. K. Chesterton, a Christian philosopher, argued “anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” Chesterton was convinced that most of what must be done to make our world go ’round is done by the average Joe – or Jill – who does not do it perfectly- or sometimes even very well. In too many situations, we want what is to be done completed perfectly – or as close to it as humanly possible. Which, of course, is nearly impossible! New actions are “new” and we are not going to be good at them. This is where our own humility and good humor comes in. Do we expect perfection right away? Or, do we expect best attempts and applaud the fact that it was executed? The former is almost always resisted and the latter is often embraced. Who does not like to be applauded or at least thanked? Everybody I know does!
So, I am convinced the greatest roadblock to success is the desire for “perfect execution.” And, as leaders, we have the obligation and opportunity to break through this roadblock – with our own humble, less than perfect, execution. We have the power of our own attempts to do “the new activity or project” imperfectly. We can influence others by the telling our own failure stories. And, of course, by thanking others for their attempts and execution.
When was the last time you led an imperfect execution? When was the last time you shared that experience to encourage others to do it as well? When did you last thank someone for doing it – to their best ability – imperfectly? These are the actions of successful leaders breaking through to tomorrow’s thriving businesses. Good luck – on your imperfect execution.