Book Review: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

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Big plans are easy. Grandiose schemes and strategies can be put together by anyone. What separates the great leaders from everyone else is their ability to execute on those plans and effectively implement strategy.

That is the central thesis of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Bossidy was an executive at GE, CEO of Allied Signal and CEO of Honeywell. Charan is basically a CEO “Coach” and expert on corporate governance. Together they argue that great companies and great leaders have a knack for execution and they attempt to identify tactics used by those leaders.

One of the best aspects of Execution is the authors’ use of real life examples. Charan will take the reader through real life examples of billion dollar companies and how their CEOs have had both resounding successes and catastrophic failures. All of them seem to start out with great plans, solid resumes, and a firm grasp of the business, but the great ones have a knack for execution and accountability.

Bossidy does the same thing with his tenures at GE, Allied Signal, and Honeywell. He gives real, quantifiable examples of business issues that he and the executive teams faced and how they executed a strategy around maximizing value for shareholders.

I love that they used real life examples, with real people, and included numbers and names. Too many business books use theory and hypothetical situations. Bossidy and Charan tell it like it happened and I find it easier to wrap my brain around real events and people that just a hypothetical.

If I could summarize the main thesis of the book it would be

Be intentional with every aspect of corporate strategy. Anyone can create aggressive goals and create impressive growth plans. Great business leaders create aggressive, realistic, quantifiable goals for each business unit and then create a corporate culture in which every employee both takes ownership of those goals and is held accountable for reaching those goals.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who plans on pursuing a career in commercial real estate. Sooner or later, we will all be part of a strategic planning or growth meeting (you may even run the meeting). Execution will give you a useful road map for creating goals, milestones, and action plans and it can help ensure you get them accomplished.

Execution in Two Sentences: Every executive can make aggressive plans and impressive growth strategies. The greatest corporate leaders create plans that give employees a sense of ownership in the goals and create an environment where all employees are held accountable for reaching the quantifiable milestones necessary to achieve those goals.

Pros: Very interesting real-life examples, good ideas for business leaders, decently well written

Cons: You could argue that the authors are tooting their own horn a bit and bragging about their business success (I don’t feel that way, but others have argued that on Amazon).

Target Audience: Anybody who aspires to a role in business leadership or who wants to be a part of a business

This book is best for: Executives

Overall Rating: ♦♦♦♦ (out of 5)


Ratings Guide
♦ = Not worth your time
♦♦ = May be worth your time if it is specific to your industry or interests
♦♦♦ = A decent book and worthy addition to your library depending on your interests
♦♦♦♦ = A great book and an excellent addition to your library.
♦♦♦♦♦ = One of the all time classics. A must-read for anyone and everyone.

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