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Execution Plain and Simple



Author:           Robert Neiman

Author:           McGraw-Hill

Reviewer:      Goke Ilesanmi

This text entitled “Execution Plain and Simple”, with the subtitle ‘Twelve Steps to Achieving Any Goal on Time and on Budget” is written by Robert Neiman, a holder of a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. Neiman is a partner in Robert H. Schaffer & Associates, a management consulting firm that has pioneered the theory and practice of managing change and building high-performing organisations for over forty years.

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, the firm helps organisations achieve rapid improvements in results, sustain progress and link strategic planning, organisation development and operational innovation to succeed in rapidly-changing environments. This author has helped major corporations achieve tremendous gains in performance and profitability.

According to Neiman, better execution is one of the great untapped opportunities for improving organisational performance. This author says it is basic and is what managers do all the time. He stresses that yet, in too many organisations, execution falls inexcusably short.

Neiman adds that despite its importance, execution has been in the background of management thinking, taken for granted, dismissed as obvious, even considered mundane in contrast with the sparkle of new strategies, new technologies, etc.

Structurally, this text is divided into two parts of 16 chapters. Part one is generically christened “Twelve Steps to Achieving Any Goal on Time and on Budget” and accordingly contains 12 chapters. Chapter one is based on the subject matter of taking responsibility. According to Neiman here, “The underlying assumption of execution is that your own sense of responsibility and your initiative will be the driving forces of achieving your goals. All the tools and techniques work only in the hands of a responsible initiator.”

This author educates that taking responsibility and initiative is not a problem for entrepreneurs or solo operators whose whole work existence depends on their own initiative. “Taking responsibility and initiative is not a problem for managers in complex organisations who have a clear assignment, enthusiasm about tackling the assignment, plenty of people and resources available to help, and who feel confident they can carry it off,” adds Neiman.

He says the first step for execution is mental preparedness. Neiman says you should think of yourself as someone who has an assignment or opportunity and it is time to get moving.

Chapter two is interrogatively entitled “What’s that again? Define your assignment – in writing”. Here, this author says ideally, execution begins with an assignment, an official charge to tackle a goal. “A good assignment generates a spark, enthusiasm, a spring to your step. It comes from your boss, your management team, or your board, and it spells out what you need to accomplish and gives you some guidance on how to proceed,” illuminates Neiman.

He adds that ideally, you will be able to discuss the assignment first, then you will get a written memorandum summarising it. He says the tone will be encouraging and you and your boss will both have a warm feeling that you are all together and off to a good start.

In chapters three to eight, he examines concepts such as organising your core team and creating a strategy; getting input and support from key players; holding a compelling kick-off event to create momentum; making all the pieces fit by using plans, schedules, budgets and controls; making demands effectively; and following up like crazy without driving people crazy.

Chapter nine is based on the subject matter of using political skills to win constituents and overcome opposition. According to Neiman here, “Political skill is essential to get things done in an organisation. You made a start on this process when doing the reconnaissance to test your strategy… Then you uncovered issues to deal with, discovered the attitudes of people with respect to your strategy, and made adjustments to your strategy to accommodate what you learned. In this chapter, we get into greater depth on the politics of execution to deal with some of the more difficult issues.”

He says for great execution, five basic political skills critical are focusing on readiness rather than resistance; getting behind the masks that difficult people wear; building a mission and a constituency that can win; communicating a consistent message strategically and dealing with the unengageable few.

In chapters 10 to 12, this author analytically X-rays concepts such as using creative problem-solving to overcome unforeseen risks, delays and obstacles; managing an intense push to get the final results and rewards; and capturing and spreading what you learn.

Part two is summarily woven together as “Accelerated execution: Using small breakthrough projects to achieve large strategic goals” and contains four chapters, that is, chapters 13 to 16. Chapter 13 is based on the subject matter of what crises can teach us about accelerated execution. According to Neiman here, “Just think how much more organisations produce in a crisis than under normal conditions. Crises reveal for an instant the extraordinary execution capability of an organisation…capability not visible before. People rally round and do whatever it takes to deal with the situation. And nothing has changed except the urgency and importance of the challenge to be met and the level of execution to respond.”

In chapters 14 to 16, this author beams his intellectual searchlight on concepts such as getting crucial results fast, generating momentum and building new organisational capabilities; multiplying breakthrough project successes to reach the big goals; and focusing your organisation on the few most crucial goals.

Conceptually, the book has depth. Stylistically, it is okay. The language yields itself to easy understanding and the concepts are logically and didactically presented. Neiman makes the text practical and interactive by including a worksheet/exercise section to test readers’ understanding and arouse their active participation.

One of the errors noticed is “His 12-steps provide…” (outside back cover) instead of “His 12 steps provide…” Also, a technical error of prepositional redundancy is noticed on page one thus: “Twelve Steps to Achieving Any Goal on Time and on Budget” instead of “Twelve Steps to Achieving Any Goal on Time and Budget.” These errors need to be corrected in the next edition.

Finally, this text is highly recommended to all managers and organisations that want to achieve success through proper execution strategy.

GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: [email protected]


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Technology, key to growth in Niger Delta — NDDC MD



The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Samuel Ogbuku, has emphasised the importance of technology in driving economic growth and social development in the Niger Delta region.

Speaking at the Port Harcourt Tech Expo 2024, Ogbuku, said it was necessary for the NDDC to collaborate with technology experts to impart skills to the youths and boost their chances of gaining employment in the field of technology.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that by sponsoring the Tech Expo, the Commission was demonstrating its commitment to fostering technological growth and development in the region.

He noted, “Technology is key to the future of the Niger Delta. The way technology is changing, it is only wise to change with the times and prepare for the future. We are ready to collaborate with relevant organisations to provide a training platform for our youths.

“We are already collaborating with the Rivers State Government to drive the Holistic Opportunity Project of Engagement, HOPE, project in the area of Information and Communication Technology, ICT.”

Ogbuku said that the Commission was revamping the Rivers State ICT Centre in partnership with the government to empower the youths with needed skills in the rapidly advancing technological era.

He said that the Commission would ensure that the facility was not just available but in top shape, ready to accommodate the anticipated vast number of participants in the Commission’s ICT hub and job creation initiative.

Ogbuku said further, “We need to build our youths and our children as well. We have acquired 45,000 U-lesson tablets for distribution to schools for the use of our children. We will launch the tablets and deploy them to schools across the region.”

The NDDC boss said that the world of tomorrow would be shaped by the designs and technologies emerging today.

“It is up to us, as individuals and organisations, to determine what happens next,” Ogbuku noted.

A keynote speaker and a Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, USA, Dr. Maurice Dawson, addressed the subject: “Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence.” He remarked that Nigeria was the fastest growing digital economy in Africa.

According to him: “Cyber Security is the act of protecting networks, devices and data from unauthorised access or criminal use and the practice of assuring confidentiality, integrity and availability of information. In a world driven by computers and the internet, cyber security was very critical.”

In another presentation, a lead forensic examiner, Dr. Tombari Sibe, said that the landscape of cyber security was widening on a daily basis. Speaking on the topic; “Cyber Security; Emerging threats and countermeasures,” he noted that the global cost of cybercrime was rising exponentially, adding that it was a top risk threatening digital transformation in Nigeria.

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Again, fire razes four shops in Benin



By Elvis Omoregie, Benin

Men of the Federal Fire Service, Edo State Fire Service, Nigerian Army School of Supply and Transport Benin, the University of Benin Fire Service (UNIBEN) and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), on Wednesday battled helplessly to put out a raging fire that razed four shops on the busy Ugbowo-Lagos road.

The fire incident was said to have started from one of the shops, dealing in Hospital and Laboratory equipment, and later spread to other shops within the building.

It was gathered that the fire incident occurred by 2pm and caused a lot of anxiety as residents and shop owners made frantic efforts to salvage the goods, while operatives of the different fire services were on ground to fight the fire, without any luck.

The correspondent who visited the scene of the inferno discovered that all four shops directly opposite the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) were completely razed in the inferno.

Speaking with one of the shop owners who operates a Boutique, Mr. Sunday Madubuko said about 2.45pm, a shop next to his was on fire, as he was told by the shop sales girl.

“The sales girl ran to my shop telling me that a fire was burning in our office, I told her I  don’t have a fire extinguisher. Before I knew it, the fire extended to my Boutique. All I  know is that the fire started from the Laboratory Shop and spread to other shops. The cause of the fire, I still don’t know. What I lost in the inferno is goods worth over N20,000,000,” Madubuko said.

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Okuama: Delta Gov. inaugurates IDP Mgt committee



By Dave Okpogadie, Asaba

As a way of bringing succour to the displaced people of Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori on Wednesday inaugurated Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Management Committee.

The Committee has veteran journalist and former Editor of The Guardian Newspaper, Mr Abraham Ogbodo as Chairman, and Director of Personnel Management, DPM, Ughelli South Local Government Council, Chief Austin Emaduku as Secretary.

Other members include Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Hon. Festus Utuama, Hon. Reuben Izeze, Dr Richard Kofi, Chief Oviri Uto, Hon. Josephine Oduaran, Obukohwo Henry Ediyo, Karo Ovemeso and Austin Ohwofaria who will serve as Camp Commandant.

Inaugurating the Committee at Government House Asaba, Governor Oborevwori charged the Committee to carefully plan the resettlement and rehabilitation of the innocent citizens of Okuama community.

Oborevwori said, “I welcome all of you to the inauguration of a Committee charged with the duty of planning and coordinating the settlement and rehabilitation of our people at Okuama.

“Much as we condemned in strong terms the dastardly act that took the lives of our gallant officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.

“We will do everything we can to reduce to the barest minimum the attendant effects on the common man in Okuama community.

“Innocent people have been displaced, their homes and properties destroyed, this was, and still is, an unfortunate and most unexpected development.

“Like I said when I visited Okuama the other day, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and the military agreed that innocent people in Okuama should not be made to suffer needlessly.

“This is why we sincerely believe that sooner than later, the innocent ones will be allowed to return to their homes.

“It is now right for the government to set up a committee to plan their resettlement and rehabilitation ahead of their return. This is the minimum we owe our people, we have to reassure them to have a sense of belonging as we make adequate arrangements for their settlement and rehabilitation.

“Note that you have been carefully chosen based on your previous antecedents, we are therefore confident that you will do a transparent, thorough and selfless job that not only the people of Okuama but every Deltan will be proud of you as you make adequate arrangements of receiving them and lessening their pains.

He urged them to attach a sense of urgency to the assignment.

“We must demonstrate the highest degree of love and responsibility towards our people. That is the least we can do for them.”

Responding on behalf of members of the committee, the Chairman, Abraham Ogbodo, expressed appreciation to the governor for finding them worthy to serve in the committee.

He said their appointment into the committee was a call for service and assured the governor and Deltans that, by the grace of God, they would live up to expectation by delivering the needed services to the people.

According to him, members of the committee would work with the sense of urgency that the state assignment requires, assuring that they would be transparent, thorough and selfless in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Okuama.

Recall that Okuama is the community in Delta State where about 17 soldiers were ambushed and brutally murdered by criminal elements a few weeks ago.

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