Era of Execution is here – Where are execution specialists?

Era of Execution is here – Where are execution specialists?

As an individual I can be the best but with a 10 member team it is a different game and with a 60 member team it is a totally different game as you don’t get to meet most of them who really execute. Now imagine a company with 200, 2000 and few hundred thousands. How do you make everyone execute better?

Let me state some of the examples: Every week I buy books for a few hundred rupees. This week I was at Oxford, I bought a few books and went to the counter. There were 2 counters, I was standing in the queue when a guy suddenly came and barged in. And to my surprise the guy at the counter billed him. I told the counter guy that I was in the queue but he shrugged it off! Seemed a small thing for him. People barging in the queue is everywhere- be it Spencer’s, Haldiram’s and even at KFC (sometimes).

Let me give you another example, during Durga Puja (the largest festival of Bengalis) we bought a few items from Pantaloon. At the billing counter they told me “Sir, you have made a purchase of more than INR1,000. You are eligible for our festive offer coupons. Do you want the coupons?” Well, I was not expecting the coupons but then a little more is always good. so, I said “Yes”. So, he gives me the bill and tells me to stand in the second queue with the bill to get the coupon. I stand in the long queue and notice that there’s a form to be filled in to get to coupon. There was 1 guy who was filling in the form for all the people. It was a long waiting time and many of them were leaving the queue. Finally I also left the queue with a few questions – there are 4-5 billing counters buy why 1 counter for coupons? Did I ask for the coupons? No. Pantaloon wanted to give me something extra to make me happy but instead of making me happy it made me disappointed. After 10 minutes of wait you leave the queue with no coupons – you know how utterly disappointed you feel.  

Now this is everywhere including Techshu. Execution problems exist at different levels. 

What is the definition of perfect execution? Proper execution at all levels. Example: in case of Indigo Airlines, there are people who come and clear the flight for next departure, the safety guys, the cleaning guys, the security guys etc. Each one of them will have to execute their work on time with no compromise on quality to ensure a superb experience for the passengers. According to me, a perfect execution happens when each person involved in the process chain knows what is expected from them, is measured for quality guidelines and is able to complete their tasks on time with quality.

Where are the problems?

  • People have no idea what is expected from them and how their work is connected to the overall goal/mission of the company (Relatively easy thing to fix, it took us over a month to fix this). 
  • People have no idea how to measure their performance. I wonder whether Pantaloon, Haldiram’s even bother to see how long a person has to wait in queue, what are the problems the customers are facing etc. In the evening at Haldiram’s it is a fight for food. Some counters are vacant and some are over-crowded. Who is getting these data? I used to tell my boss (at Grmtech), if you were here in India, the company would have been a different company (as he was not getting the data points which was visible on the ground).
  • There is no achievement as there is nothing measured. I don’t have a way to excel as no one is checking it or measuring my progress. Customer feedback is not really something you can rely on.
  • It needs to be visible like a score card so that teams can be motivated to get the work done really fast. In case of McDonalds, there is a screen which shows time taken for order delivery. They keep checking it and showing it to their teams. Good one but is that the most crucial data? What about how long do I need to stand in payment queue (who is measuring it)? You have bells at Pizza Hut &  Rajdhani restaurants where happy customers leaving the restaurant ring the bell. Some form of data to measure your performance on a daily basis.

I think the coming years (especially in India) are going to be very crucial for execution. Whoever can execute it really well can lead that industry. For execution you certainly need:

  • Great people who can take ownership & realize that people are not the problem (You need right processes in place, right measurements etc.)
  • Core process understanding at each level. Like in our case, we have close to 36 teams and around 20 teams have a responsible person who takes care of the core process improvement. We have defined the core process for each department. The measurement at each level with scoreboards. We will be showcasing this soon to all.
  • Then weekly/monthly incremental improvement. This is really important, most of the companies have to start from 0 and then they take it to 80 and leave it there, then after a few months someone else comes in and starts from another 0. Incremental improvement is a behavioral change, companies need to align themselves to it with right documents.
  • Some things that are not easily measurable can be put into some kind of random checks/ NPS scores.

In recent times I have read books like “Good to great”“Built to last”“First, break all rules”“4 disciplines of execution”“The professional”“Execution”“Winning” etc, attended Franklin Covey’s leadership training, 7 habits etc. to put things in place when it comes to execution. What I see is none of these books are going to give step by step guide for execution (obviously) but it gives you different perspectives, different tools. However, putting the advices into action needs some real commitment, patience and consistent follow up from the top level.

I dream of a perfect company, only possible if execution is mastered at all levels. Wishing all the companies a great execution experience which will lead to execution era!