Implementation: How to Get Things Done…

You’ve likely heard the phrase “Plan your work and work your plan”.  Although its origin is unclear; research shows it first started appearing in the late 1800’s.  That would have been around the start of the 2nd Industrial Revolution, also known as the technology revolution.

The expression was fitting for that time period, as technology was increasing, complexity was too.  Errors could be extremely costly; the measure twice and cut once approach had taken on a more significant meaning.   The need to make planning and processes a bigger part of the overall equation made sense.  In 1913, Henry Ford would have never have gotten his Model T assembly line to work if all the parts for the car were just randomly placed along the production line in no particular order.

Most business owners see the value in planning and strategizing.  The fact is, we spend a large percentage of our time with our clients doing just that.   But at the end of the day, unless the owner or leadership team is able to implement and execute those plans, it is all a waste of time.  You can plan all you want, but tangible actions are required if you want to get things done.

“The secret of getting things done is to act!” Dante Alighieri


How to get things done….

It starts with Vision.   You need to be able to share your Vision with your team and that may include your customers.  If you are not able to communicate your plan, your strategy, on how you are going to go from where you are now to where you want to be, you will have a hard time getting anyone else to jump on your bandwagon.  Paint the picture, share your goals, and set big picture milestones, your team needs to know where you’re planning to take them!   Without this important first step, your team may as well be driving with blinders on.

There must be Accountability.  This is where is starts getting a little tricky.   Established companies usually have some type of an organizational chart meant to define the overall structure of the company, but unfortunately, a lot of them are useless.  Often they should be called “the company hiring or seniority chart” as they do little to help get things done and mostly just remind everyone where they are in the pecking order.

Instead, try this approach.  Look at the operation of your business as one master plan you are going to implement and execute, look at all the functions that have to take place and define the responsibilities required for each function.    View each of these as a box of responsibilities, and then put only one person’s name in each box.  Some names will be in multiple boxes, but only one name per box.  Once this is defined, organize the boxes together and build an Accountability Chart, and toss your old organizational chart in the trash can.

Note:  This exercise often results in a “senior employee(s)” now being accountable to someone who was below them on the old organization chart.  Remember, this isn’t about pay or seniority it is about getting things done!

Working Your Plan.  The Implementation and Execution.   If there is one common message in most business books on achieving success, it’s that there is usually at least one chapter focused on Action.  But action needs focus.  As you implement your plan, your team needs to have expectations established and there needs to be a system that tracks progress, efficiencies, and bottlenecks.  That’s the accountability component working.


Here are 4 ways to help ensure things get done.…

  1. Set timelines on everything, as much as you can. If someone commits to make ten calls, agree on when the ten calls will be done.    If there is a report needed, agree on when it will be completed.
  2. Agree on metrics to track that are tied to efficiency. It is easy to come up with reasons why some area of a business can’t be measured, but usually, it is an excuse and not reality.   Once these efficiencies are established try to leverage technology by creating a dashboard to monitor them.   There must be a way to monitor progress, even if it makes people uncomfortable (or especially because it makes people uncomfortable…)
  3. Make meetings a regular practice. Why?  Because they work!   They don’t need to be 2 or 3-hour meetings.   You can get a lot accomplished in a short 30-minute meeting once a week.   Have a set meeting structure, follow it and see how much better your communications become.
  4. Celebrate success and hold your team accountable. When you hit milestones, celebrate them.  It doesn’t need to be over the top, but acknowledge achievements.  And likewise, when someone isn’t performing you must hold them accountable…looking the other way when someone is constantly underperforming hurts the entire company.

What do you think?  Have you ever implemented a new plan only to find out it fizzled out a few months later and no one is quite sure why?  How would you rate yourself or your company when it comes to execution and implementation of a plan?  Are you getting things done?   As always we love to hear your comments in the space below.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach