The Last Mile
Execution needs initiative + follow-through
In an earlier post, I say we need both Vision + Execution to succeed. I’d like to add to that to say that Execution can be further broken down into two things: to start and to finish. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
But the truth is they can be very different things, and they come with their own challenges. I find that if you have a really compelling Vision, then getting started on the Execution is usually pretty easy. People are excited, they see the whole thing in their heads, and they dive in with a lot of energy. But there is an 80/20 rule to this. With that clear Vision and an energized team you can crank through the first 80% of what needs to be done really quickly, but the last 20% can turn into quicksand. But if you don’t get that last 20% done, you might as well not have started in the first place. Things need to get finished. In my early startups, my partners and I got into the habit of encouraging ourselves and each other by saying, “If you’re not 100% done, then you’re 100% not done”. I continue to say this today.
It is in that final stretch that the true commitment and energy of the team is tested. This is also where good planning pays off. If you have really thought through the project, you can plan ahead for that last 20% and be ready for it (even though nothing will ever be exactly as you planned). Ideally, you will have done the hardest parts up front to attack when you have the most energy and where trying different solutions is cheaper to do than it is later on, when your options become more limited based on what you have already built.
To get started we need motivation. To actually get the job done we need follow-through. One of the key values we need to carry with us is follow-through, so we can charge that last mile up the mountain and plant our flag decisively on top.
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