Category Archives: Execution

What Innovators Do

Successful innovators don’t delegate creative work. They do it themselves!


The ability to innovate is key to business success. It all starts with research, or “discovery activities” as HBR calls it : associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. They claim that successful innovators spend more than 50% of their time on discovery activities during which they engage both sides of the brain. It is more than the cognitive skill of being right-brained. You need to leverage both right AND left side of the brain.


Associating is the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields. New ideas blossom at the intersections of diverse fields. Fresh inputs trigger new associations. As Steve Jobs has frequently observed, “Creativity is connecting things.” Associating is like a mental muscle that can grow stronger by using the other discovery skills. As innovators engage in those behaviors, they build their ability to generate ideas that can be recombined in new ways. The more frequently people attempt to understand, categorize, and store new knowledge, the more easily their brains will naturally and consistently make, store, and recombine associations.


Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge common wisdom. “The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question”.

Ask “Why?” and “Why not?” and “What if?”

Innovative entrepreneurs are likely to challenge assumptions. Innovative entrepreneurs like to play devil’s advocate. “My learning process has always been about disagreeing with what I’m being told and taking the opposite position, and pushing others to really justify themselves,” Pierre Omidyar said. “I remember it was very frustrating for the other kids when I would do this.” Asking oneself, or others, to imagine a completely different alternative can lead to truly original insights.


Discovery-driven executives produce uncommon business ideas by scrutinizing common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. In observing others, they act like anthropologists and social scientists. “Often the surprises that lead to new business ideas come from watching other people work and live their normal lives”. Innovators carefully, intentionally, and consistently look out for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies—in order to gain insights about new ways of doing things.


Unlike observers, who intensely watch the world, experimenters construct interactive experiences and try to provoke unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge. Innovative entrepreneurs engaged in active experimentation, whether it is intellectual exploration, physical tinkering, or engagement in new surroundings. As executives of innovative enterprises, they make experimentation central to everything they do. One of the most powerful experiments innovators can engage in is living and working overseas. HBR research revealed that the more countries a person has lived in, the more likely he or she is to leverage that experience to deliver innovative products, processes, or businesses.


Devoting time and energy to finding and testing ideas through a network of diverse individuals gives innovators a radically different perspective. Unlike most executives—who network to access resources, to sell themselves or their companies, or to boost their careers—innovative entrepreneurs go out of their way to meet people with different kinds of ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge domains.



Effective Weekly Meetings

The foundation of a successful Daily Huddle or Weekly Meeting is a great facilitator.  Below are some characteristics and best practices of some of our most successful executive teams:

Be dedicated.  A good facilitator is dedicated to the regular meeting rhythm.  Weekly Meetings and Daily Huddles should happen on their designated days/times without fail.  If a person is not able to attend, they should still prepare by doing their Weekly Meeting Prep and sending their Victories, Priorites and Stucks to the Daily Huddle facilitator.  A good facilitator holds the team accountable to being prepared.

Focus on the How, not the Why.  Efficient Weekly Meetings produce solutions-based discussions instead of status-based presentations.  The facilitator should not ask why Red and Yellow are struggling.  Instead, they should guide the discussion by asking the team how to move struggling priorities toward Green.

Steer Clear of Tangents.  The best facilitators do a great job of reeling discussion in and keeping the team focused.  If the discussion takes a left turn, bring everyone back to center.  If a discussion only involves 2 people, ask them to take it offline.  The goal is to keep everyone engaged.

Drive a Culture of Accountability.  Executive teams that list at least 2-3 Action Items for each Personal Priority are infinitely more successful with execution.  Every week, the facilitator should review the All Actions List with the team as part of the Weekly Meeting Agenda.  As Action Items come up during the Weekly Meeting or Daily Huddle, the facilitator should record those so they don’t slip through the cracks.

Share Facilitator Duties.  Some of the most advanced teams rotate facilitator duties throughout the executive team.  At the beginning of the quarter, the weeks are assigned.  If someone isn’t able to cover their week, they have to find someone to switch.  This takes the responsibility off of one person, and gives everyone the experience of facilitating.  It also improves Weekly Meeting Prep and participation because everyone gets a taste of how it feels when you are the facilitator and someone doesn’t contribute.

Repost by Tiffany Chepul, Gazelles Systems 

Execution Culture

You don’t have to be a management expert to diagnose whether an organization has a strong culture of execution. It’s usually obvious. Just sit through a couple of top management meetings, and you’ll quickly get the idea.

If the meeting consists of a long Power Point presentation, filled with slides purporting to show all the wonderful things the presenting group has done; if others in the meeting sit quietly throughout, unwilling to ask questions or poke holes, knowing their own presentations will soon follow; if everyone leaves the meeting with no clear sense of what happens next; and if the lead manager sits quietly throughout, then you have every reason to be concerned. This is not a culture of execution.

On the other hand, if the presentation is short and to the point; if the presenter clearly highlights both successes and failures; if others feel free to question and debate the presentation; if there is a common understanding among everyone in the room on goals and timelines, and if all leave the room with a clear sense of what needs to happen next and who needs to do it, then you are likely witnessing a strong culture of execution.

Interestingly, it’s not always the actions of the lead manager in the meeting room that will signal the nature of the culture. If a manager sits silently through a long and uncritical and unquestioned presentation, he or she is probably failing to do the job. Same for a manager that raises questions or suggests goals that seem a total surprise to others in the room.

But if a manager sits silently as the presenter does a hard-headed critique; as others freely weigh in; and as everyone leaves with a clear sense of goals, timelines and next steps, then the manager is doing the job. The company has a culture of execution that can govern itself. That’s our final aim.


If strategy is deciding what to do, execution is all about making it happen. It’s the follow through. The main requirements for successful execution are:

1. Clear goals for everyone in the organization, that are supportive of the overall strategy
2. Measuring progress toward those goals on a regular basis

3. Clear accountability for that progress

Those are the basics. Beyond that, good execution requires having a “systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it,” argue Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in the book “Execution” Most organizations, they say, don’t face reality very well. It’s the manager’s job to force his organization to face reality, and then to deal with it.

At Frederique Constant, we use Rhythm Systems to help our teams execute our plans and accelerate our growth. Rhythm is particularly useful to align our multiple levels of management in Switzerland, USA, Germany and Hong Kong.


Rhythm Dashboard

Frederique Constant grew sharply worldwide and we restructured our organization two years ago. All senior managers worldwide report to the Management Team in Geneva. Subsidiary Sales Directors, Operations Directors and CFOs report to their counterparts in our Geneva HQ. Weekly reviews via web and video conferencing systems have created a tight worldwide organization.

The weekly meeting is a critical success factor in achieving our plans at Frederique Constant.  Taking the time to prepare for weekly meetings helps to ensure our discussions are focused on solutions to items rather than mere status updates.  We ask all managers to prepare the weekly meeting with these steps:

  1. Review your week and update your status.
  2. Prepare an action plan for any priorities not on target to be completed.
  3. Capture your victories from the week – what went well?
  4. Visualize next week – What does success look like?
  5. Looking into next week – what are 3 priorities?
  6. Stuck – anything you are stuck on and could use some help from the team.

Weekly meeting agenda contains 4 easy to follow steps to having a successful meeting

  Step 1: Talk about the company’s plan

  • Review the company’s priorities: celebrate victories and discuss solutions to any priorities that are not on target.
  • Review company KPI’s and discuss any action plans for those not on track.
  • Who What When – Decide who is responsible for what and by when.

  Step 2:  Each team member shares their plan for the week.

  • Victories from last week
  • Review their Who What When from last week – what got done?
  • Top 3 priorities for the week
  • Stucks
  • Summarize what a successful week is for you.

  Step 3:  Review Who What When list

  Step 4:  Discuss customer feedback

Running solid weekly meetings is critical to successful business growth. Read more by our Coach Patrick Thean.