individual or firm; they are not more important or less important. A friend of mine consults to a coffee company. They have the opportunity of cracking the Retailer market [high turnover, low margin] or of rolling out a franchise of brilliantly branded coffee cafes. The first strategy looks powerful on paper, but the second, by far less in turnover, makes more money. Interesting for the entrepreneur because he physically can’t do both. He is faced with goal prioritisation and then goal optimisation as he executes. Poor goal clarification can lead to a “straddled” strategy –  attempt to do everything and, whilst I may not fail at everything, I don’t optimise outcomes as I could have if I was focussed. In the book by Ashbury and Ball, The Winning Ways, they quoted Meyer Kahn, then-CEO of SAB, as saying he just did one thing every year. Sound seriously simplistic, almost childish. But you see his goal in those days was to internationalise SAB and become the biggest brewery in the world. His business managed 2nd and anyone who has SAB shares knows what’s happening right now as Anhauser Busch moves to acquire SAB, gain and African footprint, and be by far, the #1 brewer in the world. So your goal needs to be owned and communicated as the most important thing you need to achieve. If not, beware the new year resolution quandary.

  1. Bringing the resources to bear

In the course of establishing milestones or, in other words, laying out the journey of the Plan, you would have given thought to what it takes to achieve the goals. Apart from the caveat that entrepreneurs often take big risks, knowing what it requires to take on your goals is fundamental to Execution. Early January, you will begin committing resource to your Vision and its Plan. In the coffee example above, the owner needs to employ a Financial Manager without whom his tax, debtors and quick expansion could vaporise his business. A friend of mine taught me that businesses fail for two reasons: Success and Failure itself. Whatever the latter is you will understand, but the former is harder to comprehend. Success, and what the bankers call Overtrading, goes hand in hand. You may need new staff, more staff, new offices, more offices, more cash resources, more marketing, more stock – whatever is “more” could lead to unsuccessful Execution. From observation, Success fails even more conspicuously than Failure or, put another way, it’s just a bigger mess. So dedicate the resources that you have to the top priority goals and don’t overstretch them. Getting “one thing” done properly is more important as you build success than attempting everything. The only antidote to inadequate resources is clear prioritisation.

And, by the way, for many estate agencies, the most vulnerable resource is the Principal – You. Stretched too thin, you cannot execute optimally. You may put in the effort but something is bound to fail – your health or relationships, for example. You’re human so pace your ability to Execute as if it is a scarce  resource. By doing so, you may avoid much disappointment.

  1. Management control

I often think that this management discipline is the most neglected of all. In 1916, Henri Fayol laid down 5 functions of Management which were condensed over the years to four: Planning Organising, Leading and Controlling. Let’s face it, by the time you’ve done the first three successfully, the fourth seems redundant. Nothing could be further from the truth and, I would go so far as to say, what you don’t Control will control you. The five pillars of Management Control are: Set the Goal, Measure Performance, Evaluate Performance, Correct or Reward and Feedback [into Goal Setting]. A process is required to control an outcome. Space allows for just a few points: (a) Ensure that you can measure your goals. Some say you only get what you measure. (b) Evaluation takes time and effort. Look at what went wrong and what went right, assess future performance and what needs to change and compare current to desired outcomes. (c) We all correct well but few of us stop to reward well. From a pat on the back, to a restaurant voucher, to a monetary incentive to a large bonus – all Reward is good to ensure continued performance to goals. (d) Feedback is the process that informs direction. Think of it this way, you get to a destination by steering the car away from deviation and putting it back on course over and over again. Management Control is just like that and is mission critical to Execution.

  1. Hard work

The founder of Twitter was interviewed the other day. Asked about their success he retorted: Isn’t it funny how 10 years of hard work looks like an instant success? To the same point, many years ago our Bank came up with a slogan: Work smarter not harder, as part of a values campaign. I’ve got to be honest, I have never understood that and have always resorted to hard work, the right kind of focussed work, as a prerequisite for success. Continual attention to detail, looking for new things, personal application to the task, risk management and expenditure of effort has a way of winning through. I know successful people and all of them look like an instant success after years of hard work and sacrifice. Why should you and I be any different? In the process, don’t ignore three things: Exercise, Eating and Sleep.

Execution makes the difference between success and failure. In between is mediocrity. Only Success is desirable. 2016 can only be successful against a Plan that is well Executed. Otherwise hope for a geluksskoot [“a lucky shot”]. On the other hand, it is highly probable that a well-considered Plan and a great Execution will pay you rich dividends and serve others in the process. Why would you choose anything less for yourself and those you value?

There is one more ingredient, I believe. People.

Yours in Property

Jack Trevena
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