Leadership – How to improve execution capabilities?

This post is for those IT leaders who are interested in improving execution capabilities of their teams.

While IT leaders might have great looking (& sounding) vision/mission, roadmap and strategy documents, execution is where most of the mishaps can happen. IT groups generally tend to use many methodologies and frameworks to improve project execution (Agile, SDLC, PMI-PMBOK, etc…), hire/retain team members with appropriate skills/competencies, however, unless certain foundational characteristics are in place, execution might not be world class.

So, what are the basic (& often forgotten) ingredients for a strong delivery team?

Here is the recommended list:

  • Clear definition of roles and responsibilities
  • Strong communication (Information Flow)
  • Organizational structure
  • Awards & recognitions (linked to performance)

The above four elements, although might seem very obvious and simple, but it is due to lack of one or more of these that some teams are unable to execute strongly.

A group tasked with delivery of a project should have clearly defined goals along with roles and responsibilities. In a diffused leadership situation, projects tend to falter. Leaders think it is someone else’s problem and the project members are not sure who is making the decisions, many times critical events can go haywire.

In today’s age of Facebook, Twitter etc. (in the consumer world), communication within companies is still based on good old emails and phone systems (ok, some of us are using skype/Lync etc.). Lack of communication (information flow) is a big contributor to execution malfunctions. Close attention is required for strong communication not only within the project group but also with customers, and across other functional groups. While good communication helps in managing change management and project issues/risks, it is also useful in building relationships (networking).

Generally, first thing companies tend to do to improve execution capabilities is to change the organizational structure. While importance of appropriate organizational structures can’t be ruled out, however, this step alone is not sufficient. Without clear definition of roles/responsibilities/goals and strong communication flows, structural changes alone can’t  bring long-term improvements.

Last but not the least; awards must be linked to the performance.


Secrets to successful strategy execution – Harvard Business Review June 2008

On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B – Academy of Management Journal Dec 1975


About adhirmattu

A Senior Information Technology Executive with expertise in building world class global IT organizations to improve company profitability and growth. Experienced in supporting multiple large scale acquisitions & global system implementations with consistent track record of reducing cost of IT service delivery.
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