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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Monday, October 07, 2002

• Face Reality! - I have a favorite cartoon that I first saw long ago (it must be at least 10 years now) in The Utne Reader. I often refer to it at some point in most of my engagements with clients, whether regarding strategic planning, production management, or multi-project management. It’s a single panel and pictures two people standing in a doorway. The person behind has his arm outstretched, holding the head of the person in front so that he is forced to look out of the door to the street scene beyond. It has as a simple caption, the advice to ”Face Reality!. Too many times, I've come across strategies that try to unrealistically address multiple priorities, production plans that don’t recognize the finite capacity of the plant they purport to schedule, and project management organizations that keep piling on the projects without regard to resource capacity. In each of these cases, the failure to “face reality” leads to sub-optimization and disappointing results.

A few days ago, I mentioned that I had started reading Larry Bossidy’s and Ram Charam’s Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done. As I make my way through it, I’m finding in it a number of themes with which I strongly resonate, one of which is reflected in (and reminded me of) that old cartoon. According to Bossidy and Charam, a key aspect of a disciple of execution is to ”insist on realism.” Strategies need to be planned for execution, highlighting key obstacles and concerns. Promised “numbers” need to be supported by a realistic sense of "how" those they will be achieved. Getting ahead of one’s self is a failure of execution and source of larger failure.

This thinking is totally in line with practices common to TOC-based management. The core concept of the constraint permeates decisions and directions, providing a basis for understanding the source of limitations, most obviously in implementing production and multi-project management processes. But also in the development of strategies (to address both individual problems or larger organizational directions), the structured use of the TOC Thinking Processes provides and encourages open and realistic scrutiny of proposals. It also specifically solicits dialogue regarding both concerns and obstacles — the exact issues that Bossidy and Charam suggest that an execution-focused leader need to be aware of and to deal with.

I suspect that this won’t be the last mention of this book that you will read in this blog.

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