Execution

bjorn-karlsson

The foundation for Corporate Citizen (the inevitable megahit) is a description model for personal and organizational development with the working name Triple-E. It’s based on three pillars; Essence, Execution, and Evolution. Today I’ll introduce you to Execution, which explains how and why things get done.

It’s a fair question to ask why we even need a description model that explains how things get done (or not, as is too often the case). The answer is twofold: We can use it to analyze performance patterns, and it can serve as an instrument to drive purposeful change. Analyzing our action patterns improves understanding and introspection. Applying an instrument for change is tightly connected to accelerating Evolution.

The Execution model is based on three basic motivational triggers:

execution-model

The triangular model is based on the premise that any action is triggered because someone wants to do something, needs to do something, or have to do something. These are not mutually exclusive triggers, but any action will have one dominant component. Interestingly, the model applies equally well to individuals and organizations. Attached to each component is its primary source of energy – the main driving force that compels us to act. The two most powerful sources in the model are Passion and Fear, and they can easily be exemplified:

  • I have to run, or the bear will eat me. We have to become profitable, or we’ll go out of business. (Fear)
  • I want to marry you and live happily ever after. We want to change the world with our great ideas. (Passion)

While Fear sounds like it is purely negative, that’s absolutely not the case. In order to avoid unwanted situations, Fear helps create an immediate and powerful energy that can be used to quickly move out of harm’s way. For example, when a customer has a major problem and screams at you right before lunch time, you have to help them fix it. With great sense of urgency you do what it takes to fix the problem as soon as possible, thereby avoiding escalations, potential fines, risk of losing the customer, and so forth.

Concern is not as strong as the other two, and not as intuitive. Because of the relative weakness of the “Need to” component, many things that end up here never get executed. It’s somewhat dependent on personality and corporate culture, but in general, having too many actions in the “Want to” category is, well, a cause for concern. Here are a few examples:

  • I need to fix the roof before it starts leaking. We need to implement a structured process for sales. I need to lose some weight. We need to consolidate our product portfolio. I need to go to the bathroom. We need to stop leaking financially. (Concern.)

Do you see how all of these are in some way related to a concern? A concern for leakage, or for losing control, or for unnecessary repetition. Concern is interesting because it has equally positive and negative connotations built in, which often makes prioritization of items based on “Need to” difficult. Again, the other two components are more straightforward, especially Fear. It’s one of the strongest triggers we have, and it usually creates immediate action. Let’s look at some common words connected to the three components.

execution-model-2

As you can see, each has positive associated properties that are valuable to individuals and organizations. With perfect balance, we can become formidable in executing the right action. But what is the perfect balance, and what is the right action? The answer is of course that it depends on where you are going. In general though, most people and companies spend too much time on “Have to”, which is very reactive and often stressful. Most also spend way too much time on “Need to”, which is proactive but in the absence of good balance tends to create endless lists of things to do, and endless meetings to discuss priorities – instead of actually executing.

“Want to” is the ultimate trigger for positive action. It makes people go that extra mile and automatically be fuelled with even more energy. It makes organizations go out and change the world.

You will find that most successful start-ups execute mostly on “Want to” and “Have to”, which makes them move extremely fast and come up with creative solutions, but sometimes at the expense of global efficiency and with poor planning. There are ways to measure your performance and see where your center of gravity currently is. We’ll come back to that topic at a later time, talk about how you can purposefully change it1, and how the challenges change as an organization develops and grows.

What makes the Execution model so beautiful is its unique self-balancing capability when properly influenced by Evolution and Essence. Consider that statement to be a teaser for upcoming discussions on those remaining two pillars of Triple-E, where we will begin to understand the complete framework.

As a final remark, I want to encourage everyone to aim for more “Want to” in the actions we execute. It’s an endless source of strength and positive energy, and I strongly believe that passion is the key to a great future.

execution-model-3

 Bjorn “The Mayor” Karlsson

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Further reading:

Footnotes:

1. Astute readers will see that the three components can either be plotted in a three-dimensional graph, or with reduced dimensionality as a point within our triangle. I guess it takes some rotation and exploration of Euclidean space, so perhaps I’ll need to revisit topics long forgotten.

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