Whether it’s in your professional or personal life, how to finish that big project you started is often a major challenge. According to Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan and his colleague David Norton, 90% of business strategies fail due to poor execution. This staggering statistic is backed up by a Harvard Business Review database study which revealed employees at 60% of companies surveyed claimed their organization was “weak” at execution.
Survey respondents cited that their organizations were often not able to translate important strategic and operational decisions into action. In her new book, The Execution Factor, Kim Perell, an award-winning entrepreneur who went from being broke to a multi-millionaire by the time she was 30 and sold her last company for $235 million, explores how execution is the critical skill that drives success. Perell outlines five key traits required to master the skill of execution and become a successful entrepreneur: vision, passion, action, resilience and relationships. She uses them as a blueprint for understanding who you are and where you are going.
Perell believes,”Execution separates the dreamers from the doers: it is the ability to do and get results—to keep moving forward to achieve your visions and goals in business and life despite challenges, hardships, and obstacles that lie ahead.”
Currently an executive, angel investor, and CEO of global marketing technology company, Amobee, Perell shared these tips on how to improve your skill set to move a project forward and stop procrastinating.
1. Set Your Goal And Prioritize Your Vision: Develop a crystal clear picture of what you want to achieve. This might seem obvious, but some of the most successful people set clearly defined goals and write them down throughout the day. Likening it to a North Star, Perell emphasizes that,”Writing your goals and keeping them at the forefront ensures that you’re psychologically motivated and reduces the excuses that cause doubt and indecision.” It can be your most powerful tool.
Perell also recommends prioritizing the actions that directly relate to executing your project and goal by only working on the tasks at hand that correlate with that project. One of the best ways to do this is to utilize a “Do It Now” and “Do It Later” list to stay focused on a project. Many firms, use Asana, to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. Glass wipe boards are also a great tool to keep goals visible and teams can regroup for 10 minutes at the end of the day to quickly review their progress.
2. Take The First Step. Just getting started is often the hardest hurdle. Instead of getting stuck in analysis paralysis, just dive in and move forward. Know every time you act, no matter how small, you get one step closer to completing your project and reaching your goal. Just start.
3. Don’t Suffer From Analysis Paralysis. It’s incredibly easy to analyze each and every step of a big project you’re working on, eventually paralyzing you from taking any action. From finances to the team to the business plan, these can all come in the way of your big project, but they’re just excuses for shying away from the first step. It’s too easy to want something to be perfect and wait for all the data – but you’ll never have it. Follow General Colin Powell’s “40-70 Rule.” The essence of the rule is this: collect 40 to 70 percent of available facts and data, then go with your gut. Don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100 percent sure, or you’ll be too late.
4. Don’t Mistake Busyness for Progress. Procrastination often stems from avoiding something we don’t feel like doing. Often, we work on everything else first before we work on the thing that will bring us closer to reaching our goal. How many very busy people do we all know that are working really hard but aren’t getting anywhere? Don’t mistake your busyness for progress. We’ve all been the kids who cleaned our rooms instead of doing homework. Don’t organize your paperwork instead of making the call you are trying to avoid. Prioritize what’s important first no matter how unpleasant it might be. Once the hardest or most unpleasant task is complete the rest of the steps won’t seem as tedious.
5. Create A “To Do” List. It’s not enough to just list items. Create a list of six steps that will help you avoid procrastination. Perell recommends using this framework – keeping in mind your goal and your vision for your outcome.
- Identify action steps – What are the necessary steps to complete your project?
- Create a time frame – When is the project due?
- Build in accountability – Who is doing what?
- Anticipate possible obstacles – Is there anything that could potentially go wrong that you could prevent now?
- Create a list of resources – Build up your tool belt.
- Create a review process – Once you start on the project have a review process in place to ensure everything is on track. One of the best tricks is a weekly meeting or call on Wednesdays. It’s the perfect half way point during the week to review progress and tackle key issues.
Finally, Perell emphasizes, “Success may appear easy, but it’s never a straight line. It’s an an odyssey of sorts.” So go ahead, embrace the journey.