Falcon_9.jpg“Ideas are easy, execution is everything” – Chris Sacca

What a great quote! That is so true isn’t it? It’s fairly easy to come up with an idea, all you have to do is to think one up.

With SpaceX, Elon Musk had an idea to commercialize space travel. It turns out execution of that idea is REALLY hard. The team was able to design a rocket called “Falcon 9” that returned to earth and landed itself, making the 1st stage rocket reusable, reducing the cost substantially. SpakeX is now trying to land Falcon 9 in the middle of the ocean on a small platform called a “drone ship”. Why is this important? The drone ships can be easily moved to any location, saving money on fuel, a key to commercializing space travel.

As of January 19th, 2016 Falcon 9 had made a third attempt, only to have the rocket tip over and explode. I have no doubt that the SpaceX team will eventually figure it out and achieve their goal.

How does this relate to running a business or as a consultant, helping small businesses execute? There happens to be quite a few parallels. 

Here are 4 ways to make execution easy (or at least easier).

  1. Be clear about the vision

According to the SpaceX website – “SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”

Did you get that? Their ultimate vision is to enable people to live on other planets. Everyone is the organization is clear about that vision. Does creating a reusable rocket enable that vision? Yes it does.

Key question to making execution easier – Does everyone on your team understand the vision?

  1. Have well thought-out milestones (goals)

SpaceX doesn’t stop with just the vision. They understand that there are very specific milestone or goals that must be attained for the company to get one step closer to seeing their vision realized. They achieved one of their goals on 12/22/15 when they launched Falcon 9 and the reusable first stage of the rocket to returned to earth and landed on it’s own.

What are your milestones or goals? If these are not clear, you’re spinning your wheels, wasting resources on activities that don’t get you any closer. I would be willing to be that you also don’t have the financial resources of Elon (by the way – that’s awesome if you do!).

Key question to making execution easier – Does everyone on your team know the company goals?

  1. Just Start (realize you won’t have everything figured out)

I am sure that the SpaceX engineers knew that even though that had a clear vision and goals, it was likely that the initial attempts may fail. In fact, I am sure they planned for problems and were collecting tons of data around each attempt so they could make adjustments. They didn’t give up when their first attempt failed.

You are not going to have everything figured out and that should not keep you from attempting to execute on your plan and achieving your goals. Maybe you need to break those goals down into more manageable “initiatives” that could help you to make progress on the goal you set out to achieve. Have your team think about what they can do to help make progress. Align their daily, weekly and monthly activities with what the company is trying to accomplish. This should be above and beyond just keeping the lights on. Remember, you’re driving the company somewhere thats not where it is currently. You’re driving the to achieve your vision (again this is why point #1 is so important).

Key question to making execution easier – Are you waiting until you have everything “figured out”?

  1. Check-in, Measure Success and Make Adjustments

You can bet SpaceX mission control has a debriefing session after each mission to look at the data and determine what went right, what went wrong and what could be improved on the next mission. All the time, they are keeping in mind the company goal of landing Falcon 9 on the drone ship.

In order to execute, you must have a process where you check-in and review your progress. I suggest a monthly check-in where your leadership team is reviewing the company goals and KPIs. Use this time to make adjustments to your execution strategy. What’s changed? What must you do differently in order to be successful?

Key question to making execution easier – Are checking-in at least monthly?

Are you a company that is struggling to execute? How about a small business consultant that’s been hired to help solve a problem? I hope these 4 simple steps have helped clarify some areas where you and your team are getting hung up.

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