Culture – the Key to Execution

Culture – The Key to Execution by Tom Peters

If you want to get things done, pay heed to Tom’s take on the importance of an organization’s culture:
We could get by without the system … But we could not get by or get anything done without the “culture”—the discipline to follow up and attitude required to effectively work with others.

Execution, or getting things done, requires that the whole team must be oriented toward moving the project along, getting it quickly to prototype after prototype, and bringing it successfully to Excellent! completion. Upon his return to Apple, Steve Jobs demanded they stop working on marginal improvements to existing products. He got the whole company enthused over inventing “great products” that “make a dent in the universe.” Tom’s phrase for that mindset is Wow! Projects.
Read on for tips from Val Willis of Tom Peters’ company on how to reinvigorate your organization’s culture by pursuing only Wow! Projects.

Own the Execution:
Encourage and help people to see their work as a series of projects, NOT a never-ending list of assigned tasks. Each phase of the work should have a specific goal, a timeline, and a predefined outcome for a customer. “Projectizing” work, as we call it, helps people to take more ownership of their day-to-day activities. Reframing their projects provides the opportunity for people to convert their work into causes they care about.

Case Study—Take Ownership of your Project: A recent participant at our WOW! Projects Labs, an HR manager from a leading UK retailer employing many part-time and casual, temp workers. She was struggling to meet her store’s improvement targets for staff absence and lateness. When we introduced the idea of projectizing to her, she was keen to convert this thankless task into a project she could get excited about. Her solution was to convert it into “the great place to work” project. Rather than framing control of errant employees’ behavior as the problem, she positioned the workplace culture as the root of the problem. This has given her a completely new set of activities and gives her the chance to engage with her people in a completely different way.

Why not try this approach next time you are assigned what feels like a mind-numbing job? First projectize it: decide who the customer is, what a good outcome would be for them, and set a target completion date. Then reframe and convert the project into something you do care about and have energy for completing.

Chapters from Excellence. No Excuses! give further insight into the importance of culture and pursuing Wow! projects:
“Culture” Comes First!
Wow!: The Wow-ification Imperative

To accompany the article on “projectizing,” we offer a look at Tom expounding on the notion, in Milestones Matter from the Little BIG Things video series. In this clip, he takes you on a drive from Vermont to Boston, explaining why every goal along the way makes the whole much more doable.
We’ve suggested you might want to reframe the culture of your organization. How does that happen?

Watch Tom explain that there’s a clear path to increasing any attribute you may choose. Measure it.

His topic is Measure Innovation, but you can take it from there to fit your own situation.

Need clerks to exude more friendliness? Measure it.

Need salespeople to listen more than they talk? Measure it.

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