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  Synopsis: A research team put one hundred and sixty big companies under the microscope for five years. Their objective? To find the answer to a pair of burning questions: Why do some companies consistently outperform their competitors? Which strategies, among the hundreds recommended by management gurus, can actually make the difference?  
How Following Through at Every Level Can Make or Break Your Company
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It's Not What You Say… It's What You Do
It's Not What You Say… It's What You Do

Buy this book now at 800-CEO-READ
Buy this book now at 800-CEO-READ

It's not the big that eat the small… It’s the FAST that eat the slow
It's not the big that eat the small… It’s the FAST that eat the slow

Buy this book now at 800-CEO-READ

They began by sorting the organizations into 40 industry specific groups – each with similar scale, scope, finances, and future prospects. Next, each company’s ten-year track record was analyzed and all the firms were divided into one of four categories:

  • Winners who consistently did better than their competitors,
  • Losers who fell short time after time,
  • Climbers who started off poorly but found a way to improve dramatically, and
  • Tumblers who began with a definite advantage but then went south.

The analysts cross-referenced the strategic plans at each of those companies with some 200-plus high-powered tactics. All the brightest ideas were on the list – from “Customer Relationship Management” to “Six Sigma,” from “360-degree Feedback” to “Enterprise Resource Planning.”

By reviewing both the 10-year track records at each company and the strategic choices among all the popular initiatives the research teams were able to separate cause and effect. In other words, they identified which of these business strategies made a substantial impact on a firm’s competitive advantage and which didn’t.

The final conclusion surprised everyone.

“It matters little whether you centralize or decentralize… if you implement ERP software or a CRM system,” wrote the experts in their final analysis, “it matters very much though that whatever you choose to implement you execute it flawlessly.”

Conventional wisdom is wrong. Becoming a winner, a loser, a climber or tumbler in any industry is not the result of finding (or failing to find) the perfect strategy for your organization. What makes or breaks your company is your grasp over management’s most basic mission – to make sure everyone at every level is following through.

That’s a lot harder than it sounds. To make sure that what’s expected actually gets done a manager must:

  1. Communicate what’s expected in terms everyone can understand,
  2. Match the right people to every strategy,
  3. Getting their teams off to a great start,
  4. Maintain momentum long after the mood has passed.

1: A Clear Direction


2: The Right People

A Clear Direction   The Right People

3: More Buy-in


4: Individual Initiative

More Buy-in   Individual Initiative

© 2004 Laurence Haughton

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