Oct 21, 2014

Ideas Are Cheap, Action Is Not

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” -Mark Twain

Companies that are propelled to act will always outperform the dreamers and ideators.

But few are propelled to act. Tom Peters wrote in In Search of Excellence, “Faced with an opportunity to achieve something significant, beyond their routine day-to-day tasks, most managers simply do not grab it.”

Growth doesn’t happen in the sandbox

Companies can lose sight of the need to act as they search for the perfect idea.

Companies think and brainstorm and analyze and search. They talk and talk, looking for that one, perfect idea that will take them to the next level. But as Paul Kerr, CEO of Scalar Decisions, says, “You don’t grow like we do if all you do is sit around in the sandbox and talk about strategies.”

I profiled Scalar for my upcoming book, Sticky Branding, because they are one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. Within ten years the company has grown to over $140 million in revenue!

Scalar’s approach is action oriented. Paul says, “I love having goals in place, driving towards them, getting them accomplished, and then setting new goals.”

A propensity to act

Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan write in Execution, “I saw that leaders placed too much emphasis on what some call high level strategy, on intellectualizing and philosophizing, and not enough on implementation. People would agree on a project or initiative, and then nothing would come of it.”

Every high growth company I encounter has a propensity for action. They will take an idea or a strategy and they’ll run with it. If it doesn’t work they learn, adapt, and approach it from another angle.

Their attitude is to let the competition get mired in strategic planning and ideation. They treat strategy and execution as one. They plan and execute with fluidity.

Be ruthless with ideas

There’s no shortage of ideas in this world. The challenge is finding the few great ones that are aligned with your company’s purpose and values, and then ruthlessly implementing them.

Does your company have a culture of action?

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