June 21, 2010

Embrace Those Who Are Good at Executing Big Plans

So here's how wild and crazy my Friday nights are these days - I spent last Friday night watching PBS' Newshour with Jim Lehrer... Wild? Probably not. Instructive and interesting? Absolutely. This past Friday night especially...

Newshour's regular columnists, Shields and Brooks, who spar with one another each night, were discussing the disgustingly sad situation happening at Arlington National Cemetery... Brooks, who's also a New York Times columnist, said the following (at 11:29 of the video here):

"...Vision's important. But actually executing properly, getting the proper computer system there, even after millions have been spent, executing in the Gulf, executing on an oil platform, that is underplayed in a society that likes something fancy, something oratorical, but actually executing is tremendously important, upon which everything else exists. And we have a failure of execution on BP, a failure of execution I think now in the Gulf, and certainly at Arlington."

While it's not perfect grammatically, I agree with Brooks' comments wholeheartedly. To me, execution is an oft overlooked aspect of our work in associations as well. We can have many great ideas, a bold new vision or a shiny new plan, but if we don't execute those things very well, they're worth nothing more than the paper upon which they were written.

An example: The organization for which I work has a bold vision for what we're going to be in 2025. It talks about how large we're going to be, what kinds of offerings we're going to have, etc. Essentially, it's a number of bold aspirations that will guide our path as we move toward it. However, unless we execute the intermediate sets of metrics and goals that will help us get there, that bold vision will be a nice thing to point to, but won't accomplish much. That's why execution is so important...

Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea - I do believe that big things can be accomplished by thinking bigger than the status quo. I respect the big thinkers out there who are leading our associations to new heights, and hope to be someone who does so someday.

At the same time, there are a lot of staffers out there executing the big plans that are being developed by those big thinkers. Embrace those people! They are as important to the success of our associations as we move forward as those who are coming up with the ideas themselves.

Now, back to my regular Monday night ritual - watching Shields and Brooks battle it out again... Maybe I'll gain another tidbit that I can use here soon!

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