Execution matters

Very early in the Trump presidency, he signed an executive order to institute a travel ban. It was so poorly conceived, vetted, communicated and staged, its disastrous rollout was canceled in a couple of days. A key example was he failed to tell (or involve) the people who would execute the decision what they needed to do. He also did not advise beforehand the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader who found out when we did.

Earlier this week and over fifteen months later, the President decided to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Whether people agree with this decision, the State department had a very difficult time answering questions the next day as to what this all meant. The did not know answers to questions on the impact on business transactions underway, business transactions that had multiple parties from various countries, business transactions where US suppliers provided parts to French companies working with Iran, etc.

One reporter noted it was shocking how little the State department people knew on what needed to be done and the answers to many questions. They were not briefed. Apparently, the lessons of the first travel ban and other poorly rolled out decisions have not been learned. This is what vetting, planning and communication tries to avoid. Just because a regal person says to do something does not mean it can easily happen. Execution matters. Time matters.

As a former consultant and business manager, I can assure you execution is as important as good ideas. This is a key reason companies spend time and money in project management training. With that said, it is not uncommon to see execution challenges. I recall one prospective client telling me a new software was going to go live a certain date. I asked what alternatives they had considered if certain things did not happen as planned. His answer was of course they would happen on time. It is rare that things go as planned and this was no exception as the start date was delayed.

Yet, what we are seeing from the White House should not be a surprise, as one only needs to look at the business history of the leader. While the confident President would never admit this, what financial reporters and biographers have known for years is Trump is a terrific merchandiser, but they would not confuse him with being a good manager. Managing by chaos and loyalty are not conducive to the very necessary boring competence. Even vetting candidates for jobs is essential and is not a competency for which this White House is known.

Execution matters. Vetting, planning, communication, and time are essential. Without doing these things, too many people are caught off guard. A visual metaphor is White House communication staff hiding in trees from the press after they just found out Comey was fired. Not only did Comey find out after the media did, but so did the Communication staff. Without execution, you have chaos and confusion.

17 thoughts on “Execution matters

    • David, the 80/20 rule applies to managers as well. Only 20% are good at what they do. Many managers want the job until they get it and realize it is not in keeping with their skill set or preference. There is a trend that reveals more introverted CEOs due to the complexity of running businesses with multiple units. Keith

  1. Amateur, and not even a bumbling one who realises his mistakes and tries to do better, at least there is some dignity in that

    • Roger, I think with so much turnover, open positions and inexperienced and arrogant leadership, the situation is ripe for routine chaos and mismanagement. As you know, people vet change to both communicate, bit glean input to make it smoother. Picking his own doctor to run the VA was an unforced error. No vetting and it blew up. Keith

      • The man is simply not suited to the Office Keith.
        Historically this is nothing new. In centuries gone this was down to the accession of a son or other blood relative to the throne. In later times due to the quirks of a voting system.
        The latter I feel describes him ‘A Quirk’.
        When this farce has finally ended there may well be a great deal of sober reflection amongst the professional politicians.

      • Roger, the inability to manage is not foreign to business either. I have met wonderful CEOs, but I have also met some of the greediest bastards as well. Quoting one of them, his mantra was “What’s in it for me?” This sounds an awful lot like a certain President. Keith

      • Times which test the soul Keith.
        Take care and best wishes

  2. Dear Keith,

    The only plus in this case is that with this level of incompetence, implementation is delayed as in the travel ban, the DACA deal.

    And then the president gets frustrated when his plans are delayed or when there are complications. The latest story is that he berated and humiliated in front of other cabinet members the DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, for her failure to secure the borders.

    The NYT is reporting that she almost quit.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, give her time, she will turn in her resignation. Again, we come to the question, why would someone work for this man? It is not just Trump as Pruitt has been sloppy with that science thing which is why he has lost several of the cases against his regulation changes. Apparently, the judges want to see supporting data not anecdotes. Keith

    • Linda, I must confess the continual chaos, incompetence and incivility wear me out. It is a daily mess, mostly of his own making. Keith

      • And remarkably, I’m convinced he sees it all as one big success and a lot of fun, except, of course, when he watches the fake news and gets all bent out of shape.

      • Linda, his tweets brag on successes that are oversold or due to multiple factors. But, mostly he has damaged the office of the Presidency, our country’s reputation and relationships with allies. Keith

  3. The ‘man’ operates by impulse, much as a small child. A thought … oooohhh, yeah, I wanna do that … I wanna do it NOW!!! {Lies down kicking and screaming until he finally gets his way} Planning, researching, preparing … not part of his grand plan, of which there is none. And none dare tell him “no”. Not good traits in one who holds so many lives in his hands.

    • Jill, that was the premise of Newsweek’s investigation before the election. Trump was not strong at due diligence or getting which created relationships with bad actors around the world. He is continuing that in the White House. Keith

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