3 Reasons Your Planning Fails In The Execution Phase.


" Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe"- Abraham Lincoln

You have sharpened your axe! The planning phase was simply brilliant. Every Goal and KPI was clearly articulated. Then comes the execution..........

What was that initiative that we started last quarter? What happened to (Fill In The Blank)? How many times have you said this over your career? Why is the execution of a plan so difficult and why is there so much failure in the execution phase of PDCA. Why can't we just DO it?

This is not a new question. If you Google "why the execution of planning fails" there are 30,800,000 results.

 3 reasons your planning fails in the execution phase alliance calibration

In the book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution the concept of creating a cadence of accountability is introduced. Simply put, we are easily distracted by the whirlwind. The whirlwind is all the day-to-day distractions, albeit important distractions, that we must deal with in order to keep our business running. These can easily overtake the execution of the best-laid plans. A cadence is a regular rhythm.  You have probably seen a band march into a football field or in a parade with just the drums playing. They are playing a cadence to keep everyone in step. It requires discipline and leadership to stay on task and not get distracted by the whirlwind.

3 Reasons Your Planning Fails In The Execution Phase

1- Having a meeting when an email would suffice

You have seen it happen time and time again. The 30 minute  meeting somehow morphs into an hour-long meeting and you can't even remember what was on the agenda.

The puppies cadence of accountability.jpgwere let out of the cage and you can't get them back in. The whirlwind has overtaken the meeting and a new more exciting project has been discovered and focus is lost. Don't let this happen to you! Meetings should be focused on high-level progress towards the goal or roadblocks and friction points that are preventing the objectives from being met. Everything else can be covered in an email. A hyper-focused email can convey pertinent information in the subject line.



The first professional job I had was with a very large university. When I became a manager, the Manila inter office mail envelope would be delivered to my mailbox. It seemed that at least monthly some major initiative was rolled out. It got to the point I would throw most of them in the trash. Why? I could never figure out What's In It For Me and my staff.maslow-pyramid.png

The more things change the more they stay the same. You are called to a management meeting, some major initiative from corporate is rolled out and you have no idea why you are at the meeting.

These types of initiatives disregard Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. They go to the lowest level of needs. If you want to keep your job you will be on board. You appeal to the higher needs of Esteem and Self-actualization when providing a collaborative environment so input can be given. Doing this allows ownership of "The Plan" and provides the reasons why execution is important.

You can use the phrase team Player all you want, but eventually, everyone wants to know What's In It For Me.


3- Lack of Hyper Focused Meetings

3 Reasons Your Planning Fails In The Execution Phase.jpegI love stand-up meetings. Why? No one wants to stand for an hour or even 30 minutes. Stand-up meetings lend themselves to around 15 minutes. No Food. No Snacks. Report Progress. Execution or Do meetings should be short. There needs to be a scoreboard that is understood by everyone. Report your deliverable.

"Our goal was to reduce out of specification parts on machine #3 from 3% to 2% by June 1st. There has been no improvement. We discovered the CMM does not have the resolution necessary to meet this goal so we will start using a digital micrometer instead."

Enter the results on the scoreboard. Meeting over. Aligning with the idea of a cadence of accountability, execution meetings should be on a set schedule with a set outcome. No distractions.


We would like to know what your experience has been. 

Please feel free to comment below.


Phil Wiseman

Phil Wiseman

Phil Wiseman is Chief Marketing Officer at Alliance Calibration. He earned a B.S. in Chemical Physics from Centre College. Phil is an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor and ASQ Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence.

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