It’s Neither Magic Nor Charisma; It’s Execution

In my last blog, I related a story about a great breakthrough win for a firm in a new market. Chess Queen Execution Strategy Wayne O'Neill and Associates (See WOA blog:  Positioning to Succeed – A True Story.)  Today I want to tell you that it didn’t just happen by itself.  In fact the pursuit was over an extended period of time as implied by the tale of how our winner gained credibility and positioning to overcome considerable obstacles to success. Our hero and his teammates needed a plan, and they needed to execute the plan in a timely manner.

An effective execution plan has several critical characteristics.  The plan:

  1. Is developed collaboratively by those directly involved in the pursuit with input from others less directly involved.
  2. Builds on an ever growing understanding of the business and political issues facing the client’s senior leadership team, often referred to as the C-suite.
  3. Asks, “who within  our firm may have intelligence about this client or his/her issues that can be leveraged.”
  4. Pushes the team to seek more diverse external connections to  develop a broader perspective on the issues facing the client’s leadership and generate more compelling solutions to those issues, which leads to stronger positioning.
  5. Explicitly defines who will do what, and when will it be done.
  6. Can be flexibly updated as new information is developed about how the client organization really works,  the C-suite’s business and political issues and potential solutions.
  7. Enhances engagement by team and management because its easy access promotes timely updates and frequent review of new information and task execution.  (Much easier today using the web. Often harder when buried in the data dump of many CRM systems.)
  8. Creates a bias toward action and mutual accountability, while fostering communication and collaboration.


A sampling of the action from our success story is illustrative.   Our hero was able to gain access to the CEO and began to learn about his business and political issues. He developed a plan to stay in regular contact with the CEO by periodically bringing solutions to the table.  Who could help stay abreast of the issues? Who could discuss solutions to the issues and when should they be introduced?  Some of the resources were within the company but in other areas of the country, so he planned how to get them involved.  For one of the issues around physician alignment, his company had no solution resources internally, so he sought someone internally who would know someone externally who could help. Then he arranged a meeting between that resource, the client’s CEO and himself.  And so on.


Of course all during this time, he was involved in multiple other pursuits and projects.  The execution plan was the tool he used to corral his collaborators. It kept the pursuit from sliding to anybody’s back burner.  It prevented vital intelligence or tasks from slipping through the cracks. Most importantly, the execution plan kept the team moving forward creatively and persistently toward ultimate victory.


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