The Problem With Over Valuing Execute

Are you missing the foundational blocks for team success and satisfaction with your rabid focus on execute?

Execute is all the rage now. There are entire books dedicated to the art of Execution. Most of the companies that we work with today have placed an extreme emphasis on execution. They share mantras like “Get Shit Done.” All of this focus on the fourth phase in the workflow process is great for me because I am naturally high in the Execute energy, but before we all begin jumping in fifty different directions, let’s make sure that we have given due time and attention to the three workflow phases that must come before Execute if we want to have maximum outputs and maximum impact.

EXPLORE

Explore is the first phase of any project. I would ask you this, “Are you getting the right shit done or are you just doing shit?” I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review that talks about the importance of strategic thinking and how it is critical to build in dedicated time for your team to think strategically. In the 5 Dynamics world, this means setting time aside to Explore. This is the time to think about the “what ifs” and the “we coulds.” This is the space for divergent thinking and exploring possibilities. This is when we will find those untapped markets or those unique products. We worked with a Fortune 100 company last week and put this discipline into action. The results were amazing. We expected that the individuals in the room who were naturally high in Explore would love the exercise, as we were sure that they were being pushed on a daily basis to get more shit done and done right now, but what surprised us was how people who were lower in this natural Energy found it freeing to be able to slow down long enough to think strategically.

EXCITE

Excite naturally follows Explore, and is when you bring your team members on board with your idea. It is also frequently overlooked. This is the time where we develop a communication plan that we are all able to align around. This is where we learn about each person’s role and involvement in the project. This is also the time where we begin to build excitement and engagement around the project. You know, all of that squishy stuff that we high Executes think should happen organically. Well, I can tell you from experience, it doesn’t. In my first company, we had plenty to be excited about with 1100% growth in three years, going from 1 million in year one to 10 million in year 3. That should have been enough for anyone to get excited about, right? Wrong! In retrospect, what is crystal clear to me is that Excite cannot be rushed and it cannot be delegated. Be intentional about both moving into and out of this phase of every project or process. Yes, every single one.

EXAMINE

Examine is the phase that follows the successful journey from Explore through Excite. You should never skip this step.  What happens when we don’t have a detailed plan to follow? In a word, chaos. The left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. We find that two or more people or teams are working on the same things because there was no well thought out plan for everyone to follow. We are all doing shit, but it is very likely that we are doing the same shit. The other problem that comes from too little examine is that sometimes we don’t know what the hell we are talking about. That’s right, no one checked the data, so we could be executing with incorrect assumptions. And without Examine there is no structure and there are no systems, so scalability and repeatability are jeopardized.

Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast!

Executing is great, but only if you are executing after you have worked through the first three phases of the project completion cycle. And, if we really want to be great, I am going to have to ask you to slow your roll just one more time as there is one more critical step in the process: Evaluate. This is the time where we slow down long enough to look at what worked well and what didn’t and yes, here comes more of that soft stuff, but we also have to consider how people felt about the process. Did they enjoy it? Would they want to work with you again? Are they updating their resumes as you read this post?  Execution is undoubtedly an important step, but there are no short cuts allowed in the project completion cycle if you are wanting to build a sustainable business, product, or team. So, by all means, execute, but also explore, excite, examine, and evaluate.


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