The Art of Execution


November 23, 2015

You have a very big goal that you want to achieve but if you don’t know how to execute, then having a goal or a dream is pointless.

So, what is execution? It is, in simple terms, the process of carrying out a plan or a strategy for achieving a goal. It is a discipline rather than a technique or a tactic. Most people find it difficult to complete a task or a project basically because of wrong execution. If the execution is wrong then the quantity and the quality of output is lamentably low. The way you execute something is invariably exhibited on the kind of output you generate.

To get better at the art of execution, you need to know a few concepts which are the biggest obstacles to great execution. Here are a few obstacles that I know in no particular order:

Obstacle #1: Achieving Perfectionism

When you are on a project or a task, you think of ways to do it in the best way you can. You keep quality in mind and start to work on the project with aplomb. Quality is of course important but most people try to achieve the “Perfect” state to complete their project. This is where they fail to get things done. You can almost never reach a perfect state as the sole reason being that it is a moving target. You can always keep improving. There’s no end to it.

Lesson Learned: Looking for a reasonable perfectionism is a way to get things done.

Obstacle #2: Slower Decision Making

There are always times when you get stuck at a certain point where you need to decide in which direction you need to be taking. Sometimes, you are even unclear on the directions itself. This point is what I call the “Grey” point. You need to understand that when you are on a task you need to get it done as fast as possible to get early feedback. The slower the process of decision making, the slower it takes to get it done.

Lesson Learned: Make quick decisions to get your task done and get quick feedback so that you can be better the next time.

Obstacle #3: Working on Multiple Tasks

Most people work on multiple tasks at the same time. You are in this imaginary world where you think you are getting so many things done at the same time. But the reality is you are going no where. This is the concept of WIP or "Work-In-Progress". As you keep increasing the number of unfinished items that you're juggling, you'll find it much harder to make progress on any of them.

Lesson Learned: Its much more ideal to focus on and complete what you're working on first, and then to move onto the next thing. The lesser WIP you have the more things you get done.

Obstacle #4: Fear of making mistakes

This is kind of related to the above obstacle “faster decision making”. When you make faster decisions, you fear that you may end up making mistakes and that you could have made a better choice. Creating an environment around you where you could carry out experiments without fear will help you execute better.

Lesson Learned: Remove the fear and get your work done. There is always something that you can learn from each and every mistake.

The above are a few points I could think of which comes in the way of execution. Please let me know if you can think of some more in the comments section below.