The CEO’s Lament: Execution – Execution – Execution!

Most CEOs I have met with over the past 35 years have a pretty clear vision for their organization.  I suppose it is part of the DNA of a good CEO, they just know where the company should go, how to beat the competition, how to delight customers and how to grow the business.  More often than not the analytics confirm their directional instincts.

No, the problem CEOs have is not vision or strategy, it is execution.  I have had many long discussions with frustrated business leaders who cannot seem to get their organization aligned and delivering on the strategy.  They usually have a clear plan, and most are very articulate, giving presentation after presentation about the strategy and vision.  Heads nod, commitments are made, but soon the momentum stalls.  The next set of discussions I tend to have with the CEO is who to replace on the senior team because obviously they are not getting the message.

Sometimes out of sheer frustration and to speed things up, the CEO will hire one of the big consulting firms to implement an improvement project.  “If I can’t get faster traction on the strategy, then at least I can get some costs out quickly.”   And so it goes.

You know the statistics.  Study after study confirms that significantly less than 50% of strategic objectives get delivered.  Some say the strategy was flawed, but the real culprit is poor execution.

What if there was a whole new approach to execution?  One that not only delivered on strategic objectives, but as a by-product also reduced costs, built a culture of execution, and increased employee engagement, innovation, accountability, and above all – speed.

It is worth thinking about!  Or you could just call one of the big consultancies and cut another 10% in costs.

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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6 Responses to The CEO’s Lament: Execution – Execution – Execution!

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