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Book Review
Execution

Everybody knows about companies with brilliant strategies that don't deliver. They don't execute. The fact is that the greatest strategy in the world is useless if the company or other organization can't make it work. Strategy without execution is impotent.

So, this is a book about execution. Well, not exactly. Actually, it's a book about the structural processes that lead to executing strategy effectively. The three processes, as identified by the authors, are the people process, the strategy process, and the operations process.

They're all important and you have to get them all to work and to work together. The authors should know how to do this. Larry Bossidy is one of the world's most successful and effective executives. He was effective at General Electric, at Allied Signal, and at Honeywell. Ram Charan is a consultant who has worked with many companies and helped them achieve better results.

Not only do they know what they're talking about, they convey their knowledge well. The organization of the book helps them get the message across. The contents are divided into three parts: Why Execution is Needed; The Building Blocks of Execution; and the Three Core Processes of Execution. Each of those sections includes chapters which are well laid out and thoughtfully developed.

Also, throughout the book, the two authors, Bossidy and Charan, put in short pieces in the first person. I found these particularly helpful, because they gave me insight into the basic text, and they also gave me the flavor and style of the way these men think.

A big plus for the book  and something that makes it easy reading  is the selection of Charles Burke as writer and editor. Burke was an excellent editor and writer when he was at Fortune, and he brings those skills to the book.

If this book has a weakness, it's the way examples are presented. Since both Bossidy and Charan don't necessarily want to name names, we get a lot of descriptions of people without knowing exactly who they are. That means that you have to put up with a lot of "X's" and "Y's" and descriptions of people as, "A marketing executive for a midsize chemical company."

Personally, I found that very irritating, but not irritating enough to get me to stop reading. This is a book that will help you get your culture, your strategy, your people processes, and your operations in order. You can read it in a couple of different ways.

You can read this book straight through from front to back. This will give you the material as a logically developed argument.

If you're a working manager you may not want to take the time to read that way, but you can get lots of value from this book by finding a section of interest and then scanning the subtopics to help you decide where to start reading.

For example, in the chapter on getting the right folks in the right jobs you'll find a major subhead called "What kind of people are you looking for?" Scan the subheads under that and you'll find "They energize people," "They're decisive on tough issues," "They get things done through others," and "They follow through." None of these subheads show up in the table of contents, so you've got to start your browsing in the text itself.

Don't worry if you aren't running a business as big as Honeywell. This is a good book for managers in far smaller organizations. The advice is solid, practical and easy to understand and adapt.

This book gets a solid buy recommendation. Read it to help both you and your organization become more effective.

To see what others thought of this book, or to purchase it from Amazon, click here.

Wally

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