Execution Explained – In a Tiny Nutshell

Execution-In-A-Nutshell-Todd-Nielsen“Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” An American science-fiction author, Robert A. Heinlein, is responsible for capturing the essence of execution in these  eight simple words.

Execution is simply translating ideas into action. It is getting things done to achieve a goal, desire, or vision. People define success in business very differently; it might be by their profitability, their culture, their size, being “#1,” or a hundred other things. In the end, no success can be achieved if people can’t get things done.

Going from “A” to “B” in real life is never easy, or we would all be accomplished in our fields. So what are the specific steps of executing a purpose? Well for a business it can be complicated and far reaching, but if I had to throw a process that can take months into a nutshell it would consist of these basic actions:

Write Down What You Want To See Happen. Make it as plain and detailed as possible. Write it all down, then try to simplify and clarify the goals as much as possible.

Prioritize Your Goals. Which one is most critical? Which one will have the biggest impact? Start with that one—not the one that is easiest, or most familiar to you. Don’t assume you can do it all. It is better to focus on what you can achieve.

Evaluate And Examine It. Visualize this goal as a destination on a map, while you examine routes to get there. Which routes are possible, and by what means? Are the impossible routes really impossible? What if you were to create a route—be a trailblazer? Continuing this analogy, look at the landscape. What are the obstacles (the competition)? Where are your fallback routes? What or who do you need to reach your destination?

Research And Collaborate. Talk to people who know more than you do. Talk to people who think differently than you do. Get all the perspectives you can on your destination.

Make A Plan And A Timeline. Be specific. Write down everything, create your map. You can always modify the details later, but you cannot modify what you haven’t written down.

Break Down The Plan Into Small, Doable Actions. The biggest problem with execution is that most people look too far ahead when they need to be watching the road right in front of them. Break down everything; when things will get done, who will do them, how you will determine if you have achieved the small actions. A series of small steps can lead a long way toward your destination, if you have done all the preparation beforehand.

…and finally,

Don’t give up. Change of course if you have to, change vehicles when necessary; but if you’re ever going to get there… keep going.

Execution is what makes the world turn, and its what turns companies into huge successes. If you tell your spouse that you love them, but you don’t execute on those words and show your love, then its doomed. The same goes for business. You just gotta execute!

About Todd Nielsen

Todd Nielsen helps organizations create miracles of success and profitability through the power of execution. Having served as Vice-President, President, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chief Executive Officer of organizations, he has learned how to create a culture that "Gets Things Done." He is passionate about leadership, and is a dynamic and inspirational speaker.


  1. Jim Thomas says:

    Great topic and summary. No doubt this separates the successful businesses from the failures. What makes a person thrive on great execution? What drives the best?