Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done


execution-the-discipline-of-getting-things-doneBook Title:  Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Authors:  Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Publisher:  Crown Business
List Price (Amazon): US$15.38
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  269
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 0609610570

Reviewer:  Jen L Skrabak
Review Date:  April 1, 2013

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done is a classic management book that continues to be a best seller 11 years after its initial publication in 2002. It was written by Larry Bossidy, the retired CEO of Honeywell and Ram Charan, an author and executive adviser. Bossidy has served on the boards of GE, Merck, and JPMorgan Chase, and Charan, is the author of a number of business books, including What the CEO Wants You to Know, and was a director of Tyco Electronics, Austin Industries, and Emaar MGF.

The 2009 edition has been updated with an introduction that addresses the 2008 global financial and economic crisis with the position that we are experiencing a permanent “resetting” of the global business environment, with the following key principles:

  • Growth will be slower – however, the company that executes well will have the confidence, speed, and resources to move fast as new opportunities emerge
  • Competition will be fiercer – companies searching for any possible advantage in every area, from products, technology, location, and management.
  • Government will take on new roles – some as partners to businesses, others imposing constraints.
  • Risk management – understanding and controlling risk at every level, including political and global economic risks is crucial; there is also the very real risk in “business as usual”

The book is divided into three parts:

  • Why Execution is Needed
  • The Building Blocks of Execution – Leader’s Seven Essential Behaviors, Creating the Framework for Cultural Change, and Having the Right People in the Right Place
  • Core Processes of Execution – Strategy, People and Operations

Why Execution is Needed

“Strategies most often fail because they aren’t executed well. Unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they’re pointless,” writes Bossidy and Charan. Execution must be a rigorous discipline, the major job of a leader, and in the culture. These are fundamental points for consultants and project management professionals. 


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Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of cooperation between the PM World Journal (PMWJ) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) Information Systems (IS) Community of Practice (CoP) (PMI IS CoP – http://is.vc.pmi.org/). The PMI IS CoP has established a members-based project management book club as a service to members who can receive PDUs for PMP recertification for authoring the reviews.  Each book is reviewed and scored according to established criteria.  The top scoring book reviews will be published in the PMWJ.  If you are a PMI member and in the IS, IT or other technology-related field, consider joining the PMI IS CoP and participating in this unique book review program.  Information at http://is.vc.pmi.org/ or @ISCoPPMI, #iscopbookclub. 

About the Reviewer

flag-usajen-skrabakJen L. Skrabak, PMP, MBA 

California, USA

Ms. Jen Skrabak, MBA, PMP, is a senior level project executive, leading high profile business transformation projects, programs, and portfolios. She currently serves as the committee chair for The Standard for Portfolio Management – Third Edition. She brings over 18 years of professional experience in project, program, and portfolio management across broad industries such as healthcare, biotechnology, entertainment, and financial services. Her recent assignments include establishing a PMO Center of Excellence that includes both PMs and BAs, implementing a global $50 million (US) program across multiple sites and managing a $500 million (US) portfolio. Ms. Skrabak is a distinguished member of the project management community, having served three years as president of the PMI California Central Coast Chapter. In addition, Ms. Skrabak also served as the edit lead for PMI’s second edition of the Project Manager Competency Development Framework, and was a member of the UCLA Extension Project Management Advisory Board.  [email protected]