There is never a cartel on new ideas. Millions of people are possibly thinking about the same thing at every point in time. Usually, it is the first person to debut with substantive execution of an idea that claims the right to its ownership. Thoughts are only useful and make sense when implemented to yield a positive impact. Nurturing an excellent idea in a person’s mind for many centuries without its execution prevents the world from experiencing the difference which the new concept makes. As it is with the individual, so it is with organisations as well as countries. Many companies are outstanding in crafting ambitious strategies but very inefficient and sluggish in its implementation. Sometimes while they are still trying to figure out how to implement their grandiosely designed strategies, competitors invent similar if not better ideas and speedily implement the same. It is not different at the government level either. Recently, when the coalition of Southwest governors debuted with the regional Amotekun security architecture, the leader of the alliance of south-east governors screamed that their southwest counterparts copied their model. That was nevertheless laughable. However, it explains the frustrations experienced by people who believe that the world is waiting for them to come out with the best of ideas. Great entrepreneurs are known for their ability to spot great opportunities through a variety of channels. But these opportunities must be speedily converted to actionable events and executed for them to make gainful sense. Therefore, in the absence of speedy and disciplined execution of robustly articulated profit-generating ideas, they only become at best, elegant wishes.
A significant challenge with governance in this country is the inability of our leaders to execute the laudable initiatives that made them win election successfully. During campaigns, our political leaders, make a list of a highly compelling set of ingenuities that they want to implement when voted into power. We know what the rest of the story typically is. 85% of them rarely remembers that list not to talk of designing any battlefield strategy to get them accomplished. The same is also commonplace in corporate organisations. Virtually every organisation performs the ritual of reviewing its past year’s performance and in articulating a set of programs to execute in the coming year. Again, we know that in 50% of these organisations, several reasons crop up why some of the anticipated programs will either not be implemented or failed at birth. Perhaps, this explains one of the reasons why abandoned and failed projects defile the face of the country. That also explains and separates high performing organisations from those who are not doing so well. It also differentiates successful men from those who are not as successful. Execution is powerful. It can only happen when two equally powerful elements interact. One is the power to decide, and the other is the power to act on the decision made. Consequently, no matter how brilliant an idea or a piece of strategy is, without a firm decision to work on them, as well as the actual actioning of that decision, it will come to nothing.
As much as we know that the route to impactful success lies on an unwavering decision to execute brilliant ideas, one of the challenges that face leaders is coming up with the right set of implementable ideas. How do we know gainful initiatives when we see or receive them? How do we turn our organisations and offices into profitable ideas generating machines? How do we create the Eureka moments severally in our places of work, families and government offices? Making highly impactful and money-spinning ideas can never be more complicated than now, regardless of all the information streams that the internet promises. The distractions are too much. It is evident in the mannerisms of today’s kids, teens and adults. It is evident in the quality of research in the academic environment and sermons preached in religious places. Unfortunately, from my experiences, many leaders and heads of organisations fail woefully in creating the right environment for these gainful ideas to occur. Human beings rarely want to be managed. They want the opportunity to discover themselves. Most organisations and leaders only know how to manage and teach those who work with them what to do and how to do them much the same way inanimate machines work. Employees in such organisations scarcely have the opportunity of using their brains to discover and their hands to implement what will bring profitable beauty to the organisation, family and the country. While much of the strategic meetings that occur in organisations may be a step to it, they often fail because many of them only re-echo the mind and intentions of the leader. A thinking organisation is not necessarily one with many highly educated memberships which presumes that a lot of mental activities will be taking place there. It is also not a place where there are chains of meetings and brainstorming sessions. The ubiquity of meetings contributes to the distractions that minimise the achievement of Eureka moments. The answer lies in how leaders and managers create the environments of deep work. The deep work environment is one that challenges the brain to unleash the Eureka experience by creating a zero-distracting climate that supports it. It is a slight walk away from today’s highly distracting environment. Of course, one way to understand it is to rationalise why we typically seek such situations when organisations want to brainstorm. The difference here is that managers ought to create it for individual members of staff on an ongoing basis.
Strategic meetings become even more rewarding in an environment where more and more people can create stunning ideas. Only the super superior ideas survive under the circumstance. The challenge that many organisations face is determining such ideas which stand tall among equally brilliant ones. Many criteria exist for sifting this out. In any case, learning which plans or set of ideas to execute should not be a challenge as most of the team members that possess the Eureka moment creation capacity can effortlessly identify superior implementable ideas. The commencement of disciplined execution of such acceptable plans is the determination of its financing requirements. Many project failures happen because, at the start of its implementation, many desiderata take the backseat. There is the failure to determine the projects full-scale financing requirements under certain circumstances, the sources of these funds, the threats to the possible financing sources and how to manage the identified risks, and the sequencing of the project implementation in such a way that it is almost impossible not to complete it. Without completely resolving all these issues before the start of actual execution, the project runs the risk of being abandoned or performing poorly. It explains the challenge that most of our start-ups face. These entrepreneurs with good start-up ideas hang-on to their belief in the concept, without the faintest clue about how to finance it. It also happens in more prominent and older firms.
Let us imagine that the governor of your state breaks up the implementation phases and the financing required for each of these phases in one of the projects in the medium-term plan. Consider also that he submits this project work breakdown to the Ministry of Finance with an instruction to pay only when an independent assessor, for instance, Accenture or PwC certify the satisfactory completion of each phase progressively. That contractors in question most complete project phase A before executing project phase B. The result will be undeniably impressive. That rigorous monitoring of the compliant execution of the set down targets that should lead to the actualisation of a project programme constitutes its disciplined execution. Brilliant and profitable ideas have corollaries of ab initio determined implementation steps that will make them realisable. Religiously implementing these initiatives based on the agreed design will often lead to successful accomplishment provided the idea design is robust. The disciplined monitoring of the compliance of those implementing the project programme ideas will always result in disciplined execution. Unfortunately, this appears to be deliberately undermined at the public sector level to make way for the embezzlement of funds. But a leader and any leader for that matter that is interested in impactful execution must pay attention to the discipline around idea design, as well as its implementation monitoring.
On a final note, there is hardly any leader who can succeed without successfully executing programs and projects that will make him give a good account of his stewardship. The quality of these accomplished programs and projects also speak volumes about the leader and those around him. Since no one knows it all, a good leader surrounds himself with good thinkers as well as excellent executioners. The leader also knows the best productive positions in the workplace to place them. In all of this, the environment must be one that promotes deep work and the attendant Eureka moments at the level of the individual member of the team. The result is that the organisation bubbles with thinkers. Yet that is only one side of the equation which nevertheless does not satisfy unless there is a firm decision to execute the ideas that the deep work environment make possible. That is where the expert executioners come to the task. Their assignment commences with the identification of the financing sources for the project. They will also have to determine the adequacy of the streams of funding across the period of project implementation. With profound conviction about the sources and sufficiency of funding, the next execution challenge is about the expertise of the consultants and those with direct task management responsibilities. Because of project and programme vulnerability at this point, disciplined monitoring of the project must be in full gear. Our political leaders, as well as the CEOs of corporates, need to understand and internalise this sequence and muster the will power to decidedly act on gainful initiatives.