Flawless Execution: Keep Things Simple
As we continue to move forward as an agency, perspective is critical. Our Chairman and CEO, Jim Weiss, recently wrote about how 2014 would be the year of flawless execution for W2O Group. Jim is fond of telling us: “if you see a piece of paper on the floor, pick it up.” Of course, that paper is an analogy to highlight the accountability of every person to the success of the business. Simple things like putting in your time, daily monitoring reports and getting trained on new internal systems seem less mundane when you have proper context and perspective. Put another way – each one of those may seem like the proverbial piece of trash, but if left untouched, it piles up to a mountain of garbage.
Recently, I have thought a lot about my leadership and decision-making philosophy as it relates to paying off on the promise of flawless execution. I keep coming back to a few simple things.
1.) Keep the Client at the Center: We are a professional services business. We are here to serve our clients. Yet, far too often we complicate the decision-making process when it comes to our daily work. My rule is to always ask one simple question to guide decisions: “what is the right strategy for the client and their business?” While the question and philosophy are simple, the answer is not always apparent. For example, it may seem like the right thing for the client is to avoid the tough conversation around budgets. But if we truly want to make the best decision for the client, we need to take the long view and understand that by allowing the wrong budget to persist, we will ultimately wind up with a bigger problem – misaligned expectations. So while it might seem like a good idea to add two more programs into the scope without asking for additional budget in the name of relationship building, it will create a circumstance where the client expects a level of service you can’t provide because you are forced to staff against the budget and not the level of work.
2.) Understand the WHY: Being from Philadelphia, this is one I have to admit I took from Chip Kelly (the Philadelphia Eagles coach). He is fond of saying that players won’t simply do what you ask, they need to understand why it is the right approach. In thinking about my own role, I spend a lot of time outlining strategic and tactical plans for our clients and then asking my colleagues to follow on executing those plans. If there is a single piece of that plan, or my vision, where I can’t confidently explain “the why”– I have failed at my job.
3.) Be Transparent: Sometimes there is a wall between the agency and its client – real or imagined. There is a cloak of secrecy around how we run our business, get the work done and manage budgets. As the saying goes: “nobody wants to see the sausage made.” Throw that notion out the window. Transparency is vital to a healthy agency/client relationship. Be transparent about your budget. Be transparent about timelines. It is better to let a client know that you need an extra day than to rush it and turn around less-than-stellar work.
Flawless execution is a lofty goal and it can be a grind to churn out work on a daily basis without perspective. Simplifying your approach to work and decision-making helps to maintain focus on the overall objective. What is your approach to decision-making and flawless execution?