“Thinking is not enough. People have to execute. Look at a Nokia or a Kodak: they had the ideas, they had the technology, they knew what was coming, but they did not execute.”
– Ram Charan, Forbes
Here are excerpts from interview with Ram Charan gave to Forbes India. He talks about his favourite topic – Execution.
Are there a set of traits you think a globalised company ought to have?
Dr. Ram Charan: The fundamentals never change. In addition to energy, character, the ability to inspire people and having a vision, what makes a difference is the ability to understand better than others the external factors, government policies, economic changes, collecting the right people. Thinking is not enough. People have to execute. Look at a Nokia or a Kodak: they had the ideas, they had the technology, they knew what was coming, but they did not execute.
FI: What prevents execution?
Dr. Ram Charan: It takes skill and discipline. People are not trained. It requires coaching people.
FI: Do you think Apple knows how to execute better than anybody else?
Dr. Ram Charan: I’m writing a new book that shows Steve Jobs had that rare combination of being able to connect new ideas and executing tasks. Those are repeatable skills. He was the master integrator—highly focused, and he understood consumers. And that’s the reason Apple succeeds and others don’t.
FI: What does an ‘integrator’ mean exactly?
Dr. Ram Charan: In organisations structures develop where you have silos. Marketing, operations, technology, finance, human resources—and then you have a general manager. But their actions have to be integrated, they have to be synchronised. That skill is missing in many companies. When Steve Jobs came back, he put design first, as the major driver, and then he built a weekly joint practice of various experts to integrate various ideas. He did that every Monday for 14 years. He got people from materials, software, hardware, supplies—everybody together, just like a football team. By integrating, he innovated.