The Art and Science of Exquisite Execution

Now is the time for exquisite execution in your business.

We are in a new year and have just kicked off a new decade. Yep! All things have become new including how to execute the visions, goals, and plans you have set for the future.

When you think of the word… execution, what typically comes to mind? Is it the death squads or the guillotine of the dark ages?

Well, I hope not. My hope is that you come to think of the word execution as the process of making great things happen in your business, such as growth, profitability, and sustainability. (This is what I refer to as the G.P.S. of business success.)

You see, execution is not just something you do, execution is what you do to ensure you get the best results possible in any endeavor you undertake to grow and profit your business.

Create An Environment of Exquisite Execution

Execution isn’t simply a one-time push towards achieving goals or just doing tasks. Nope! Exquisite execution is a practice that is built into the culture of your business.

The late Steve Jobs of Apple is quoted as saying…

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

Execution is a process of doing things with intention and focus, which over time cultivates a culture that practices the art and science of exquisite execution.

exquisite execution

The best way to establish a culture of exquisite execution is for you as the leader to set the example. This also requires the involvement of thoughtful leaders and managers throughout the organization who are able to guide their team in the right direction.

Execution Is Just One Side Of The Coin

Having undertaken and delivered projects for a number of organizations ranging from the small $100M company and below to the major Fortune 500 brands, I have discovered that execution is part of a 2-sided coin.

So what do I mean by that? And what is the other side of the coin?

Well, when you think about executing something, you must have some sort of vision or idea of what it is you are expecting to execute and why you are executing it.

Essentially, the other side of the execution coin is vision.

Without a vision, what then are you executing? And if you are executing, what is your vision?

Make sense? Two sides of the same coin.

You can also consider your vision as simply your goal. So for simplicity, let’s just call your vision your goal. And the purpose of your goal is to guide you in a specific direction. Your goal is the destination you are trying to arrive at and execution is the path you take to get there.

Again, one coin… two sides.

exquisite execution
Now despite which word you are most comfortable with, having a vision or goal is absolutely key in order to have exquisite execution.

I was recently re-reading The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, and I just love the story he shares about a ‘problem employee’ and bowling. In his story, he talks about how this employee seems to lack motivation at work yet, he is highly motivated and excited when he knocks down all the pins while bowling.

Here’s an excerpt.

“Why do you think he was so happy?” “Because he got a strike. He had knocked down all the pins.” “Exactly. Why don’t you think he and other people are that excited at work?” “Because he doesn’t know where the pins are.”

… I believe that most managers know what they want their people to do. They just don’t bother to tell their people in a way they would understand. They assume they should know. I never assume anything when it comes to goal setting.”

The takeaway here is this… if you want to experience exquisite execution and for your goals and vision to be fulfilled, they have to be clearly communicated to every single employee and team member.

It is important, therefore, to set explicit goals for people because goals show a clear vision. Also, goals give people a target they can see and the right direction for them to move towards. When people know what they need to achieve, they will be better equipped to make their work matter.

So now, here are eight pointers that will help ensure exquisite execution in your business.

Pointer #1: Set Measurable Goals

First off, make your goal as clear and specific as possible. To accomplish this, start by setting a goal that you can measure and that is worth your time and effort to execute.

Give is considerable thought to the point where you know your why and your why not. And make sure your “why” is bigger than your “but” (i.e., making excuses about why things can’t or won’t happen.)

So how will you know if your goal is measurable? The litmus test is either “yes” or “no”.

With this goal, you should be able to say:

“Yes,” we have achieved what we have set out to do.


“No,” we had a failure to execute.

When you set a goal and can honestly answer “yes” or “no” at the end date, then you can say you have a measurable goal.

You’ll find that businesses that execute on measurable goals are happy businesses, while those that don’t aren’t.

Pointer #2: Make Your Goal Authentic And Worth Achieving

When it comes to exquisite execution, defining your goal is only half the battle. The most important step when it comes to setting your goal is to take an honest and authentic look at your core belief about it. Is this a genuine goal you really want to pursue, or is this just some random goal that you think you need to pursue? There is a distinction.

Let me tell you if it’s the latter, get ready to change it because the journey won’t be fun.

I remember two distinct occasions when I started charting my goals. On the first occasion, I wrote down my goals and what I desired from my heart. I identified goals that focused on the experiences I wanted to have, what I wanted to do in my career, and how I wanted to transform myself into a better leader, consultant, and project manager. And guess what. I fulfilled the goals I had written down because they were exciting, they stretched me, and they were authentically generated from the heart.

The next time I did my goal charting exercise, I allowed the thoughts of other people to influence me and what they desired I should do as far as my career and the roles and experiences I should go after.

While getting new perspectives from other people is essential to growth and development, I realized that only I can make the decisions that are best for me. I missed this critical piece of understanding and recognized that the goals I had set for myself during this go-around were not authentic to me, and it showed up in my struggle to achieve them.

So what’s the lesson here?

Keep in mind that it is hard to stay motivated and inspired when the goals you want to pursue are full of malarky, inauthentic to you, or as dull as a tree.

Having authentic and worthwhile goals is beneficial to your employees as well. When you are excited about what you are executing, they will engage and bring their A-game when they feel your passion and see your vision and want to actively be part of it.

Pointer #3: Make Your Goal Relevant

Just like your goals must be authentic, they must also be relevant.

As a business owner, your time and resources are limited. So get real about your goals and ensure they are truly meaningful to you and the success of your business.

Ask yourself these essential questions to verify the relevancy of your goal:

  • Will this goal help me to achieve what matters most to my business?
  • Will this goal help me get to where I want to be in the new decade?
  • Does this goal help influence my family, my employees, and other people I encounter?
  • Why do I want to make this goal happen right now?
  • Am I desiring this goal for the right reasons?
  • What impact will this goal have on me and my future?

Pointer #4: Measure Your Progress Weekly

What gets measured gets managed. You’ve heard it, you’ve read it, but do you actually practice it? If you don’t measure your progress toward a goal, you might as well not set it.

The ideal frequency for reviewing progress on a goal is weekly. Monthly allows too much time to pass and people can easily lose sight of the goal or become distracted. Trying to measure progress on a daily doesn’t give enough time to show results and simply becomes too overwhelming for people.

Tracking progress towards your goal doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be done.

Pointer #5: Follow Through On Your Goal For Exquisite Execution

Follow-through makes the difference in every aspect of your business, whether it’s following through with a prospect until the sale is made or following through with a vendor to ensure that the system you purchased is working properly.

If the follow-through is important in these areas, how much more then is the follow-through when it comes to achieving your goal? Very!

Many organizations set goals and even measure their progress. However, some goals tend to fall off the radar especially when people start to lose focus and wander off doing things that are not part of the plan.

It pays to pay attention to the follow-through.

Pointer #6: Reward The Achievers

When it comes to success in business, we’re all affected by results.

This is how Jim Rhon puts it “disciplines undone in the future give us poor results. Disciplines managed well give us good results.”

When it comes to execution, there will always be two groups of people you will encounter… the achievers and the nonachievers.

As you reward the achievers they will become even more excited about doing their jobs and achieving exquisite execution.

On the flip side, the nonachievers take up space and become costly.

Pointer #7: Incorporate Some Form Of External Accountability

Accountability can be a tremendous thing. When you set a goal find someone who has an objective and unbiased listening ear to help you get out of your own way and stay on track with achieving your goal.

Having an outside source of accountability is a powerful force if done right.

Find someone like a coach to hold you accountable. When you commit to giving an account to someone else for your actions and goals, you are in a better position to elevate your performance.

This has been proven to create better outcomes because an objective resource can help in times when things get rugged. An objective advisor can also help remind you of what you are trying to accomplish when you struggle to find the motivation.

Just remember that the external part of accountability will not work without the internal aspect. If you are not honest with yourself, then you will probably not be honest with others.

Asking someone to hold you accountable and then knowing you won’t be completely honest with them will never work.

Pointer #8: Reflect And Evaluate Your Results

Remember, your goal is simply the destination you are trying to arrive at and execution is the path you take to get there.

But, no matter how great you plan the trip there will always be unexpected and unplanned obstacles, roadblock, and unforeseen circumstances ahead, which will require you to course correct.

That’s why you need to build into your process of execution the time to reflect and evaluate so you can make the necessary course correction along the way.

The basis of reflection and evaluation is understanding how to look at what you have done and accomplished to date, and then use the information to plan for what to do next.

Consider questions like:

  • What is working that you need to do more of?
  • What is not working that you need to do less of?
  • What is missing that you need to include?
  • What are some things you need to ditch because they are no longer relevant?

Business owners who never take time to honestly reflect and evaluate will miss the opportunity to truly understand where they are going in their business.

Taking the time to reflect and evaluate, especially in relation to your business goals means you can stop driving with force and start navigating with intention, which makes for exquisite execution.

It’s A Wrap

Goal setting is a must-have skill that you must develop especially if you want exquisite execution in your business. It is also a skill that every one of your employees must develop if you want them to support your vision and execute it successfully.

If you can’t see the vision and make it plain, then it will be close to impossible for the people you are counting on to execute on it. Wouldn’t you agree?

So go ahead and implement these eight pointers and watch the transformation of #ExquisiteExecution unfold.

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