Book Review: Excellence in Execution – How to implement your strategy by Robin Speculated

A strategy is only high-level guidance unless you can execute against that strategy. Unfortunately, the execution of a strategy is one of the more challenging elements of management.
In Excellence in Execution: How to Implement Your Strategy, Robin Speculand draws on 16 years of consultancy experience and management thinking and developed and curated a collection of 18 toolkits, 11 checklists and some 182 essential questions to consider before implementing a new strategy.

Covering ways to transform your leadership approach to implementing the strategy, through communication and execution, to building excellence and developing performance indicators for the assessing your final outcomes.

Each stage of the process that Speculand defines is explored through a case study with DBS Bank, whose CEO, Piyush Gupta followed many of the techniques to deliver their own strategy.

A key model that Speculand offers are the 8 building blocks to taking right action:

1. The discipline of execution.
2. The paradox of choice – people choose well when given options but too many options can be overwhelming.
3. Right actions in motion – small steps build momentum but large steps can be overwhelming too.
4. Accountability – holding people accountable leads to results.
5. Commitment to Action – a bias for action drives those results.
6. 90-day chunks of activity – these work in a similar fashion to Scrum Sprints – limited time leads to manageable packages of activity and clear results.
7. Resources to take the right actions – resource enables activity and also demonstrate senior commitment to the strategy.
8. Making Actions Fun – If activities are enjoyable they are more likely to be completed.

This sets the scene for exploring how other techniques can be exploited.

While the book can be read from end to end, I suggest that it is equally helpful as a reference that you revisit, dipping in and out to find tips and techniques for specific interactions. The toolkits and checklists are listed for reference and to explore your understanding and knowledge acquisition there are challenges at the end of each chapter.

Overall I found the book interesting but struggled to find full benefit as I am not implementing a complex strategy in my current role. But Excellence in Execution: How to Implement Your Strategy will stay on my bookshelf for my next large strategic implementation when I expect to benefit from a second reading and as a ready reference.

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