The Surprising Reason Why Most Execution Fails: Entrepreneurial ADD
In business, a brilliant idea is just a fantasy if it stays only in your head. Execution, the final stage of the SCALEit Method™, is when you set your strategy in motion and make everything happen. It’s all about taking action.
You are the idea magnet, the visionary, the leader. Implementation—well, that’s another story. Execution is not always your best friend, but it’s the necessary promise—the Yellow Brick Road to reaching your goals.
Seldom, however, does project execution go exactly according to plan. It twists, it turns, it falls prey to errors, it gets done and redone, it gets held up, it falls apart, and then you are right back to square one assigning blame for everything having gone off-course.
You’re probably wondering: What’s usually the biggest holdup or barrier to proper execution? I’ll tell you, but brace yourself for this because it’s not really a what at all—it’s a who. And, though no one on your team will tell you this directly, that who is almost always you.
FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS
Do you find yourself moving forward on a task, distracted by another, then get hyper-excited as you see something else of interest out of the corner of your eye? This compulsion, which I call “shiny object syndrome,” refers to how some leaders chase after the newest shiny object within view and forget all about the last one they pursued with exuberance. When entrepreneurs experience “shiny object syndrome,” they are exhibiting signs of EADD: Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit Disorder. (Note: This is neither a clinical term nor a diagnosis…at least not yet!)
The fact is, it takes five times as long to get something done when you repeatedly stop and start to do other things or constantly change your mind. I’m not referring to quick coffee or bathroom breaks or a head-clearing walk, which are necessary and beneficial but latching onto doing another task while in the middle of something else.
Why does it take so long to complete the original task when you return to it? Because it always takes time for your brain to refocus. It’s like reading the same sentence over and over in a book, but not really processing it. How wonderful would it feel to dive in fully and get your projects completed in one half or even a quarter of the time? This alone would be life changing!
CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF SHINY OBJECTS ON YOUR TEAM
EADD can be fun and energizing. You feel like a puppy gleefully chasing after three balls at the same time. But if you direct your team to follow Shiny Object #1 on Monday, Shiny Object #2 on Tuesday, Shiny Object #3 on Wednesday, and then completely redo Shiny Object #1 on Thursday, your team will be completely lost in the weeds by Friday.
No team is able to execute well on so many new shiny objects at once. Even the best employees become confused and unfocused and stop paying attention to the importance of each and every new shiny object. And, keep in mind, no matter how much head nodding they give you as you unveil your strokes of genius, they probably don’t see each and every one of the objects you toss at them as shiny at first. It takes time for them to catch up with you and process the idea as they also work to systematize your direction. If you are constantly shifting from one shiny object to another, your team won’t take your shiny ideas seriously at all; they will simply wait a day or two for you to land back on earth and see your idea without rose-colored glasses and then drop it. Or, they will simply wait for that new shiny object to be replaced by another one since from experience they’ve seen the shine dim of many shiny objects.
THE CURE FOR EADD
Barraging your team and yourself with shiny new objects creates a major blockage to getting things done and prevents your team from executing the most important tasks in seamless fashion. The first treatment for this malady is to go back to your Big Picture Vision: Does this new shiny object fit in with it? If it’s something completely off the grid, your team will not buy into it and your scaling efforts will slide right down a rabbit hole.
Another thing you can do is gauge your team for input before commanding them to “Engage!” Give them the opportunity to weigh in on the shiny new object. If they don’t see how it fits in with the Big Picture Vision or assigned priorities, you might consider putting the idea on the backburner for a while. You can always resurface it at a later date and determine if it still seems shiny enough to merit devoting resources to it.
Lastly, as your team is executing important tasks toward achieving your Big Picture Vision, be aware that perfectionism can be a massive block to most creative types. Give them the space to get the job done the way they see it and help them make the project schedule. Many leaders get involved at every stage—some tasks seem like shiny objects to them, too—asking for so many redos that their teams become frustrated and confused and they lose all sense of pride and ownership. Then the leaders scold them for having missed the deadlines!
Again, first let them get the job done their way. Perfect it later. Version 1.0 will open the doors. Version 2.0 and beyond will evolve and change from the clues and feedback you receive from your customers and your market.
Focus, let go, and then “make it so”!
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Allison Maslan, CEO of Pinnacle Global Network, is the Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of Scale or Fail, which is endorsed by Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank. Allison’s built 10 successful companies starting out at age 19.
Now she and her team of CEO Mentors pay it forward by helping business owners scale their companies, fast-track their success, and create a more meaningful life. Pinnacle Global Network, a world leader in scaling companies and empowering business leaders has guided thousands of CEO's and Founders to success over the past decade. Allison’s been featured in Inc., Success, Fortune, Fast Company, and Forbes Magazines, is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a featured expert on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox across the US. She is also the host and producer of The Scale or Fail Show podcast, and the Women Who Own it Podcast in partnership with WBENC, the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in North America.
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