January 23, 2013
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The Robert E. Nolan Company is a strategy and operations consulting firm that specializes in helping managed care and clinical organizations redesign processes and apply technology to improve profitability, service, quality, and strategic focus. 


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Execution IS Strategy!


Steve Discher
Executive Vice President



As we move forward into 2013, many will look back at the most important lessons they've learned during the past year. In my case, the lesson was about the importance of quality execution to strategy. I was reminded of this lesson during a keynote speech given by management guru Tom Peters on the topic of business excellence. Having read several of his books, starting with In Search of Excellence early in my career, I have always been a fan of Peters' work. So, when he proclaimed during his presentation that "Execution IS Strategy," however, I had to pause.


We all understand the importance of strategy. At least once in any given planning cycle, we huddle up in executive management meetings and off-site planning sessions to participate in visioning exercises, deep-dives, and the like to consider, analyze, contemplate, and plan our company's future. We sometimes enlist outside assistance to help us through the process. Afterward, we spend substantial time and effort communicating and cascading these plans throughout the organization. We establish metrics and create balanced scorecards to track our progress, and the process repeats endlessly. So when Peters said, "Execution is Strategy," I was hooked. I had to understand where he was coming from.


First, Peters wanted to get the audience's attention, and that he did.


Second, he wanted to emphasize the importance of execution in achieving business excellence. The phrase "Strategy is Execution" actually comes from Fred Malek, the former President of Marriott Hotels. Malek, along with many other successful business leaders such as Larry Bossidy and Jack Welch, seem to have a similar philosophy: Pick a general direction that's good enough but make sure you implement incredibly well. I think we would all agree that poor implementation of a great strategy is useless and a dangerous diversion in times like these. Tom Peters' provocative thoughts and management principles on the topic of business excellence are great reminders for us as we start next year's planning cycle.


Mr. Peters has always provided outstanding contributions to thought leadership in business. His engaging insights and practical reminders on the road to excellence are timeless and worth another read.



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