Podcast Ep 143 | Planning to win in 2023 – Execution – (4 of 5)

What execution decisions do you need to make to win in 2023? 

2023 looks to have major challenges that are slowly developing. And this is especially so when considering your strategy and how it might be impacted by the changing environment. One of the most important questions to answer to best prepare for 2023 is how can I maintain consistent financial performance if my customer’s needs or spending changes?

“People are always excited about the games in sports, but it is all the discipline and habits built in practice that drives winning”

This week we discuss how to maintain consistency through execution and how can you win in 2023 through the execution lens. 




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.


Kevin Lawrence  00:12

Welcome to the growth whispers podcast where Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence, that’s myself and my great cohost continually talk about building enduring great companies. Why? Because we like to, and we believe in it. And we think building an enduring great company is a noble, wonderful and amazing thing to do. And building a company for a few years is maybe a different game to play. But today’s show, we wanted to start off by wishing you a happy new year, we are now officially in 2023. And I hope I’m sure it’s gonna be an interesting year. And I hope it is an awesome year for you both at work and in your life as well. Kevin Lawrence, again, my co host, Brad Giles here, kicking off the show. So Brad, what’s the word, phrase, word or phrase of the day for you?

Brad Giles  00:58

Hello, Kim. It’s good to be here. And happy new year to our listeners. I hope that 2023 is treating you as it should word of the day. I guess we’re Neil, you know, you get to this time of the year and you really, it just can’t help. But maybe not, you know, set new goals or big goals, but just feel a sense of renewal. Like, okay, I’ve closed out last year, everything is done. I’m in a rest period, perhaps for many people, and I’m beginning to look at the next year just renewal. That’s mine, what are yours Kev?

Kevin Lawrence  01:32

I was its simplicity. Simplicity is one of the most important things in business in life. And usually, there’s a few simple things that matter most. And keeping it really simple. You know, even in our goal setting tool that we use, it’s, you know, the top one or two things in any given timeframe that relate to your work or for yourself or in your life. So simple. And keeping it really simple and simple is hard. You know, and so yeah, it reminds me that quote I’ve shared before by Mark Twain, you know, would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time. Because simplicity is hard. Simplicity. It takes mastery and a bunch of extra effort. And it keeps things easy, easier to scale easier to win all that other stuff. So simplicity. So simple. What would you use? Renewal? Renewal, simple renewal, city of renewal, or renewal some Ma’am, I don’t think those mash together we could, there’s probably a great way to mash them together. It’s not coming to me right now. Well,

Brad Giles  02:30

it plays into the theme of today’s episode, which is like renew, focus on execution and make it simple. Yes.

Kevin Lawrence  02:39

And as we know, with similar simplicity scales, we’re just talking about this episode of execution. If it’s not simple, it’s really hard to execute consistently, repeatedly by lots of different people. So you’re we’re continuing the series we have about setting ourselves up to win in 2023. And as we’ve covered in the last couple episodes, you know, we’ve gone through 2022 and 2021 and 2020. Today, we’re kind of strange years. And we’re looking forward. And we’re excited to be looking forward. But you know, we want to be prepared to maximize most what unfolds over the 12 months of this year, and, and the coming few years and, and depending on where you are in your segment, there’s all kinds of interesting stuff. So today, it’s all about execution. And I’ll start off with a quote. In one of our sessions that we have with Jim Collins, he said at the end of the day, creativity is part of human nature. It’s actually pretty common, pretty easy. But discipline is the mastery. And he has a quote that success comes from relentless execution of the boring basics, particularly those that fit within your hedgehog principle. So that’s what we’re talking about today is relentless execution of the disciplines that really make a difference in your business. That’s pretty straightforward. Yeah. And we’ll go ahead, Brian,

Brad Giles  04:03

it’s, it’s interesting. I spent a lot of time many, many years with entrepreneurs. And I’ve been an entrepreneur started many companies, right. The things that make you successful as an entrepreneur is your creativity. Okay, yes. But that creativity needs to be fed. And it needs to be fed in a way that you need to keep being creative. And the brain that creates that business, that entrepreneurial flair, doesn’t like the boring basics. And then that’s the real challenge. And that’s why execution is actually so hard because the entrepreneurs who build these businesses, once they get a bit of momentum, they’re like, oh, that but I want to go and do something fun and they they chase the shiny objects that kind of pop up and it can be a real challenge. It can be and that’s why a lot

Kevin Lawrence  04:57

of entrepreneurs don’t scale. There is a are a massive majority of entrepreneurs that starts off, they don’t get past a million in revenue. Nevermind 10 Because they are incredibly creative, but they often lack the discipline or haven’t figured out how to hire the people who have the discipline to be able to run and drive those things over and over and over again.

Brad Giles  05:20

Yeah, and it’s fun, it’s fun chasing the shiny things, it’s fun to,

Kevin Lawrence  05:23

you know, it’s not very, it’s not very profitable. And it doesn’t, it doesn’t build a great company, but it sure entertaining.

Brad Giles  05:30

But just understanding it matters and understanding why execution is so fundamentally important.

Kevin Lawrence  05:39

It isn’t your point is it’s and it’s hard for a lot of entrepreneurs and even a lot of real senior leaders don’t generally have the brains who love doing the same thing over and over and over again, that’s a different type of personality style. And even myself, that’s why I’ve got lots of people around me who are wonderful at consistent execution, where I am more of an ideas person and have that entrepreneurial mind, it’s a great, great way to look at it. So if we look at you know, if you look at what you know, watching sports, and and whatever it happens to be, it’s wonderful to watch athletes do things really, really well. It’s very impressive. They make it look easy. But the reality is the reason that they can do it so well at game time or performance time, is because of the hours and hours and dozens and hundreds of hours of practice and repetition. Again and again and again and again and again. Again, that’s that relentless discipline to masterpieces.

Brad Giles  06:32

It is and I’m glad you brought up sports. There’s a there’s a common saying that many people use when it comes to planning and execution is the output of planning, right? This isn’t how we execute and that is it’s everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. And it’s a credited to Mike Tyson the boxer. And that’s fine. And it’s I love that quote. Yeah. It’s very cool to say that. And it’s like, yeah, we don’t need plans. Were too tough for that. Right. But when you actually look at that story as a reference point, he was being asked by a journalist as he was going to that fight. Aren’t you worried about Evander Holyfield, who you’re going to invite and his plans, like his plans are notoriously good, and that’s why he’s got such a great win record. And of course, we know what Tyson said in response. He said everyone’s got a plan to like get punched in the mouth, a very tough kind of, you know, thing to say as a boxer, but he went on to lose that fight. Okay, that’s the brutal reality of it. But then there was a rematch. And the planning won again. Okay, because Evander Holyfield went in with a plan. Now, his plan didn’t include Mike Tyson in the second fight is going to bite my ear off. Okay, a bite a big chunk of his ear off and then on the on the on the, on the mat, and then bite the other here. But it had his plan. And he executed and he stuck to it. And he won the second fight the rematch. So, so it’s all good. And well, to say these things and to say planning doesn’t matter. And execution doesn’t matter. But execution is where the battle is won.

Kevin Lawrence  08:08

It is. And you know, essentially that Mike Tyson quote, I love that quote, I’m going to, I’m just going to forget what you said, because it blew up that quote, in my mind, I looked at it. And I know that you’re right. I looked at it as it’s why you need to be willing to iterate and change your plan. I take it as I’ve used in context, you need to have a solid base plan and be ready to make changes.

Brad Giles  08:29

It’s not that you’re wrong. It’s that there’s a better iteration of that story, which is the Evander Holyfield’s side, which is for sure to plan had his ear bitten off. He was playing, he stuck to the plan, he adapted. And then he won.

Kevin Lawrence  08:42

I got it. I like it. Yeah. And I didn’t have the rest of the context. I like the context I made up in my mind about the quote, made it sound brilliant, but apparently it isn’t. So my we’re always learning. So you know, it’s interesting in all of these things, is that the discipline is the hard part. The ideas are easy, easy. Ideas are a dime a dozen. And for a lot of people, they get caught up in ideas and creativity. And it’s not it was just an interesting note, I read this book about artists and creative people. Do you know and we have this vision of artists and they sit and wait till they’re inspired to paint or to write it that is so far from the truth. It’s not funny, all of these highly the successful and obviously, the unsuccessful people have no discipline. Sure, they wait to be inspired, but they probably wait their whole life. The successful ones had hardcore disciplines. The painters had to paint four hours a day, the writers had to write 1000 words and it went on and on and on. Every single one of the famous highly successful artists or creative people were hardcore discipline. That’s why they were successful. They worked incredibly hard, and incredibly consistency. So like we know creativity is fun, and brainstorming and all that fun, but it’s execution. There’s Just as a side note on that, if you look at, you know, Southwest Airlines, which has been and continues to be one of the most successful airlines in the world, I was driving down in us the other day and so on fly over and always reminded that they’re great airline, there are no cough. Somebody else invented the concept. They took the playbook and actually got the manuals from the company, and just executed what they had better than the airline that they copied literally Walmart, Walmart, Sam Walton than it was this was great story about Sam Walton. Olson want Walton did is constantly went around to all the other retailers and listened and looked for their innovations, and made them happen in his stores. I just listen to this great story about how Sam heard back in the day about another retailer who had a different checkout system, there used to be department based checkouts, and this person have fared how you just channel everyone through one exit, and there’s one cashier or one point of cash, and how there was great efficiency. So he took a bus in a day, it was a four or five hour bus ride he had to take to go to this other town to go and see this. And that’s what he did his whole career, he just kept copying the best ideas. You could say, it sounded as if that he didn’t have a creative bone in his body, he would just go steal the best ideas and implement them. And again, that’s not you know, I’m gonna respect what he built. I’m not disrespecting him. He’s, he just he was a master of execution. And it was even through talking with some of these other retailers, he started to get the idea about how Logistics was going to be the core, because he could see it from talking to these other people. So again, he execution.

Brad Giles  11:41

That’s, that’s interesting. Two points. Very quickly. There’s a YouTube movie called Everything is a Remix. And it’s fascinating. I don’t know if you’ve seen it before. But yeah, definitely worth it, check out Everything is a Remix. It just tells a story that there are no genuine ideas, you look at something like Star Wars, or whatever it is, like all of these things are stitched together from all of these other ideas that are stitched together from other ideas. The second point, the number one hardware retailer in Australia is a company called Bunnings. And Bunnings. Executives Bunnings originally came from Perth and Bunnings, executives flew to America a whole, I would say not a busload, but let’s say five to 10 of them. And they would drive into one Walmart, and then a Home Depot, they would take as many photos as they can, and then get back in the car when they got kicked out and then drive to their one to have as many photos again, till they got kicked out and just kept on driving, then capture their images come back and just executed well. And now they’ve got I would guess, 70 to 80% of the retail hardware market, because they understood and they executed extremely well.

Kevin Lawrence  12:51

Yeah, limb truly, if you look at any well run company, high performing company, its execution. It’s not luck. It’s not creativity. So the root of it, there’s lots of basics of execution that we’re very passionate about. And you know, and generally they’re in kind of three categories is execution of goals, or what’s important around goals, execution, having data so you can tell what is actually working or not like to give you a sense of you’re on track. And then meetings to help make sure people stay focused on it. So having goals, having data to help us we’re doing goals. And then having meetings where people align around what they need to do. It’s not rocket science.

Brad Giles  13:30

And that’s where excellent execution comes from those three things. So if you’re looking into 2023, and thinking, how can I win, like, that’s where we’ve got to get better. And that’s where the opportunities lie. Yeah, and

Kevin Lawrence  13:43

take some ideas. And we were chatting before the show. But when we go into companies, and we need to go and help them improve their performance, generally, the greatest impact is tightening up execution because execution gets loose. You know, a company that I’ve been working with, throughout this year, really good company doing a lot of things. Well, they had a lot of stuff, but they got a little distracted along the way. And when I went back in, they said we really need help weapon this thing back into shape. So I’m okay. I started looking at the execution disciplines. There’s some quite a couple questions around strategy. When we looked at the execution, execution disciplines. They were gone. They had them, they, they were gone, and people were lost. And the meetings weren’t focused on the goals. The data was confusing. The goals weren’t clear. It’s like Well, no wonder they did they just stopped doing the thing. It’s like, if you stop brushing your teeth, you’re gonna start to notice some funny things over time, right? Or if you stopped bathing, or having a shower, you know, and bathing and brushing your teeth. Those are execution disciplines that create certain results.

Brad Giles  14:50

Yeah, that’s what I always say. It’s like brushing your teeth. We gotta keep doing it. Yeah, and you shouldn’t question it. Like, this is how we execute well, we got the right meetings, the right data, the right goal. Some priority.

Kevin Lawrence  15:00

So as some example, I mean, again, these executions, there’s all kinds of executions, that count of the goals of the talent reviews, checking on the organizational health, financial reviews, quarterly retreats, quarterly celebrations, monthly business reviews, weekly execution reviews, all that good stuff. But one company that I that I have done some work with, and they were really, really doing well, but somehow on the particularly on the people piece of it, they got focused on building an amazing culture, and having everyone love coming to their job. And they lost their discipline around people. And they lost the execution disciplines around people around the the strong discipline on hiring, strong discipline on when we make a promotion, let’s double or quadruple check, we’re making the right move the disciplines around talent reviews and assessing existing talent, it almost all disappeared, and became nice, sweet, but not an actual business execution review. And the team got bigger than it needed to be less accountable than it needed to be wrong mix of people like all kinds of stuff. And these are good people, they just they took their eye off the ball on the execution. And next thing, you know, they’ve got serious people problems, and they actually created by trying to create such a great culture. But because they took their eye off discipline or the discipline of execution, they made the culture worse.

Brad Giles  16:29

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, the thing is, right, what is the output of poor execution? Go back to if you haven’t got the meetings, humming, if you haven’t got everybody knowing the right priorities and goals. And if you haven’t got everyone getting the right metrics, what happens is the profit doesn’t fall to the bottom line, right? So it’s a direct, because that stuff doesn’t get done. stuff doesn’t get done efficiently and effectively. Correct,

Kevin Lawrence  16:55

that things slow down, they take more time, more money, or more mistakes, like the machine slows down. It’s like, you’re driving on the highway at 120 kilometers an hour. And you take your eye off off the throttle. And actually next thing, you know, you’re going 70 You have to just slow the whole machine, although people are still working hard and think they’re working hard. If you

Brad Giles  17:16

think if you’re in a company crisis, what would you do? Okay, we’ve got to have the right goals, we’ve got to have the right numbers so that we know where we’re heading. And we’ve got to have the right meetings so that we can synchronize. So there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be doing that all the time to execute effectively. That’s execution.

Kevin Lawrence  17:32

Yeah. It’s just hard to stay focused on and you know, what’s interesting, I’m just, you know, in December celebrated with one of my clients who we built this company over 11 years, I’ve been a part of working with him for 11 years and great organization, really good people leading it cared deeply strong purpose, great core values, all the right things. But the reality is we had 45 different 45 meetings every 90 days, over 11 years. Yeah, resetting the disciplines, we’d have the it was a discipline meeting, a very awesome creative CEO, excellent executives. But we would review how are we doing on the financials versus target? How do we do better? How are we doing in terms of people in our key roles? How are they doing? How do we help them to do better or get better people? How are we doing on the operational KPIs versus expectations? What do we got to keep an eye on? Where’s where are the gaps in the business. And we would go through this again, and again, and again, quarter on quarter on quarter. And over time, we made lots of mistakes, lots of errors, and we never have, it’s not like the team is perfect. But we consistently have clear, better strategy, better execution of the quarterly goals throughout the organization, better alignment, stronger culture, higher percentage of a players on the team, and with the amount that this company grew is incredible, because it’s become an execution machine and the value creation over 11 years is dramatic. Yeah, right. And they sold a big part of it to a capital partner. And it just it’s a, it’s I mean, it’s spectacular. But it’s you know,

Brad Giles  19:11

we have a very

Kevin Lawrence  19:12

good team doing very good stuff, with an incredible focus on execution that gets reset every 90 days without fail, and we get better and better and better and better and better. And, you know, but when you do the same thing over and over 44 times, and they were doing it before they met with me, probably 60 times they have had that that hardcore quarterly discipline for two days, a quarter, three days, every annual. And it’s kind of hard to not win if you continually execute. It’s hard. It’s it’s actually it’s hard to lose.

Brad Giles  19:46

It’s hard to not win. That’s exactly right. Because you just come back and you reset. And I mean, you and I do it with our firms, and we get that same feeling that everybody does that we work with, which is yeah, like I’m really clear. What I’m going into and why it matters and where to go, yes, yeah, because we get lost in the quarter, stuff comes up stuff changes, we get distracted, we need mechanisms to help us help us stay focused on doing the jobs that matter most. And that’s why we advocate coaches, external coaches, let’s be fair, because the external coach is the one that has the incentive to make the meetings and the discipline occur. And that fundamental catalyst drives that, you know, there’s one,

Kevin Lawrence  20:28

right that are like the taskmasters, basically, to help people make sure they stay focused, and don’t end up on our creative idea chasing event,

Brad Giles  20:37

which is incredibly expensive. So there’s one team that I know of, and they were amazing at execution, like just, they were absolute best practice, if you wrote a book about them, they’d have to be, you know, one of their stories would have to be in there. But then they dropped the weekly meetings, I don’t know, they got busy or something happened. And and, you know, next thing, you know, they stopped executing well, and the numbers just massively shifted. And then they’re like, oh, there’s a crisis, we’ve got to move. And it’s like, well, if you if you stop doing the weekly meetings, you’re not going to be executing well, people won’t be realigning and resetting.

Kevin Lawrence  21:20

Yes, that’s human nature. So there’s lots of different examples, the main thing that you know, that we have a great year, this coming year or this year, is just to make sure that the most important execution disciplines are tight. And, you know, really, if we were to dig into it, the things that we see that really matter, those quarterly meetings are critical, where we’re reviewing the numbers, the KPIs, the goals and the team, right. And that’s that those are, those are, in my mind, really, really critical. It makes all the difference in the world. But for one of the companies I work with, what they found for them is that the weekly meeting was the hardest one, the quarterly meeting, they got a they got an outside coach, from my team that works with them. But the weekly is where people often get lost. Yeah, and by nature, a lot of people’s weekly meeting becomes a weekly troubleshooting or a weekly discussion meeting, not a weekly execution meeting, meaning the weekly meeting to make sure we execute our goals. Right, that we get those most important priorities for that quarter complete. And people talk about all kinds of other stuff. And it’s there’s always random other stuff to talk about hot topics, all kinds of stuff. But if you don’t come back and get focused on your goals, people get lost and forget, forget what they’re supposed to do. And it’s hard to get them done

Brad Giles  22:36

well with seven Thirteenth’s of the way through the 13. Week, quarter, for example, we’re in week seven out of 13. How’s your plan going for that priority? Or, you know, an update on where we’re at? Are we likely to achieve that by the end of the quarter? That’s what we’re really talking about what’s going on in the metrics are the KPIs, we green across your KPIs is your team working all of those, those come back in and realign and if we come back, and we all we’re talking about is operations and what’s happening on the projects, or the jobs or whatever industry we’re in, and we’re not working on the business at the weekly meeting to track those things? Yeah, it’s gonna, it’s going to end in lower levels of execution, and therefore lower levels of effective profit.

Kevin Lawrence  23:24

And to be clear, from my perspective, the one thing that’s usually wrong about most weekly meetings, is they don’t spend 10 minutes to review the progress of the quarterly goals that we have agreed to the top three to five goals, or priorities or rocks, whatever you want to call them, that we don’t spend time on saying, Hey, What progress did we make last week? What are we going to do this week? And is there anything that we’re stuck on? We might need assistance with? That one thing I personally believe is the most important piece of that weekly meeting, and most people miss it, because it’s a discipline. It’s the flossing your teeth, of the of the business world, and a lot of people don’t do it well, and constantly need to reset on it.

Brad Giles  24:08

Yeah, yeah, indeed. Good. Good. Good chat. I guess what we’re saying here, then to, to begin to summarize is if you want to win in 2023, you’ve got to get your execution, right. And that means that is, as you analyze those three areas, if you got the right priorities or goals for the business for each person, for each department, for a period, ag week, quarter year, have you got the right metrics and data so that people can predict and delegate to the people make the right decisions? And then finally, we’ve got the right meetings now, you know that we advocate daily, huddles weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings in a very kind of structured format. What of those things are you not doing well? And then if you look To 2023 Which of those things can you do better or the opportunity to execute better?

Kevin Lawrence  25:07

Pretty straightforward, easy to say. And hard to do consistently over and over and over and over and over again, and again and again.

Brad Giles  25:15

But this is how you get what you really want it Yes,

Kevin Lawrence  25:19

and whether it’s in sport, as an artist, in business, it doesn’t matter. Or if you’re, if you’re a woodworker, and you want to master a certain type of wood carving, it’s all the same relentless execution. Practice consistently doing the few things that matter. Absolutely, most.

Brad Giles  25:38

Indeed, very good. So this has been the growth whispers My name is Brett Giles, in Perth, Australia, and Kevin Lawrence, my co host here in Vancouver, Canada. You can find us on youtube if you prefer to see our smiling faces just by searching the growth whispers and the YouTube and obviously like and subscribers if you’re listening to the podcast, we always like a new subscriber and welcome them and welcome any input you can find us and if you’ve got any questions that you’d like us to cover, we’d love to do that. You can find Kevin at Lawrenceandco.com and you can find myself at evolutionpartners.com.au And of course we both got weekly newsletters that are packed full of interesting things around this subject. Thanks for listening. It’s been great to have your company I hope that you are enjoying your new year, your New Year’s Day and I hope that you have a great, great day and a great break before getting into 2023 Have a good one. Look forward to chatting to you next week.