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Execution is Not Easy: Having the Conversations That Matter

Are you losing 50%of your business strategy’s value because of conversations that aren’t happening? Execution is not easy. Some of the most brilliant business plans (think Sony Betamax, or the Ford Edsel) or critical organizational goals fail to gain traction not because of the quality – but because of the execution – of the plan or goal.
One measure of the cost of poor execution can be found in a survey of 197 CEO’s reported in the Harvard Business Review, who were asked how well their business strategies converted into business results. Their estimate? 37% of the value to be gained from the business strategy was lost in execution; worse yet, one third of those CEO’s estimated their loss at over 50%! Why is that?

A simple dynamic called ‘organizational silence’ causes 85% of failed business programs and projects, according to a research study by The Concours Group. According to the study, most projects fail for reasons that are widely perceived but rarely discussed. In fact, they found that the best predictor of the future of a project is the quality of just a handful of high-stakes conversations that must occur along the way – but tend not to.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

In this case, not lives but certainly projects, business plans and employee engagement are compromised the day we become silent. For instance, what are the consequences when a manager and a direct report avoid having a necessary conversation? When tension builds up and they struggle to work together? Does this help a project get completed on time? Or in a way that truly meets customers’ needs? What gets missed? How about the consequences for engagement or trust? The data is clear that this manager-direct report relationship is at the heart of how much extra effort a direct report will give to a project, business unit or company. Unfortunately, when the difficult conversations do not happen, relationships become frayed and much is lost.
Health care offers a clearer example of the consequences of not having difficult conversations. Data suggests that 84-89% of health care personnel have witnessed coworkers taking short cuts that could endanger patients, yet fewer than 10% provide feedback directly to their colleagues about their concerns. Are we surprised that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS? Maybe lives are at stake after all!
IHHP’s Three Conversations of Leadership™ program was designed to help you and your team improve execution, engagement and performance by improving the quality of conversations in your organization. Specifically, the program helps individuals at any level give honest and candid feedback, hold people accountable, deliver bad news, engage people when rolling out change, and speak truth when there is tension and conflict. These abilities are at the heart of great execution and strong business relationships.
If your organization’s struggle to have these difficult conversations is affecting execution, engagement levels, or customer or patient outcomes, contact us. We would be happy to share with you our passion for our programs and see how they might best help you and your organization perform at your potential!

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