Barry Wishner

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Barry Wishner, leadership development speaker

To Lead Or Not To Lead...
That Is The Question!

Business Execution is a recurring theme in Barry's thought-provoking, interactive keynotes. Learn the questions top business leaders ask and how they are encouraging execution in their organizations. See listing below.

Also see a list of CEO's who have provided cutting-edge insights on tough questions and business execution that form the core of Barry's programs, articles and his upcoming book. Fortune Magazine says 70% of CEOs Fail because they don't take action.


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The World's Most Admired Leaders
Ask Questions And Adopt… "Business Execution"

ABB Ltd., Percey Barnevik, Former Chairman (Current GM Director): "Thinking - the strategies and designs - only gets you 5-10% of the way. 90% is in the execution."

Accenture, Terry Neill, Former Chairman of Global Board: "Winners out-execute rather than outstrategize, their competitors."

Accenture, Walt Shill, Managing Partner, Strategy Practice: "Today, successful CEOs operate more like they are running white water rapids than sailing a great ship across the ocean. They must intensely focus on executing in the face of constant change. Successful teams are still very strategic, but they have evolved to embrace strategies that are pragmatic and highly focused on execution."

Accenture, George Shaheen, Former CEO: "We better remember that in the end, it's all about execution. You can be right on paper, but if you don't execute it, it's not going to work."

Access Health Intl., William A. Haseltine, Ph.D., Chairman and President: "There must be a shared vision, strong leadership, fully capable management and finally, superb execution."

Ace Hardware, Richard E. Laskowski, Former Chairman: "The heart of success is discovering the correct goal and then developing a plan of execution to reach it."

Aguila, Inc., Robert K. Green, Chairman: "Focus and execution are mandatory. The only thing you can really control, after all, is the performance of your company."

Alnylam, John Maraganore, CEO: "We expect momentum to continue across the key value drivers of our company: scientific leadership, pipeline advancement, intellectual property and business execution."

Albertson's, Larry Johnston, Former CEO: "When you get the best people, you don't have to worry as much about the execution, because they make it happen.", Jeff Bezos, Chairman, President and CEO, "The onus is on us to continue to execute well."

American General Financial Group, Robert M. Devlin, Former Chairman and CEO, (Current Cooper Industries Director): "Our ability to successfully execute our strategy has produced results that met or exceeded our long-term financial objectives."

AMR Corporation, Robert Crandall, Former CEO: "About half of the job of management is trying to figure out where the company is going to be 5 to 10 years down the road, and the second half is execution."

Andreesen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen, General Partner: A quote about Steve Jobs from Andreessen Horowitz: "He set the performance standard for product thinking and product execution that all the rest of us should aspire to hit."

Apple, Steve Jobs, Former CEO: "I have great confidence that Tim (Tim Cook) and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place."

Apple, Max Paley, Former VP Engineering: "It looks like it has become a more conservative execution engine rather than a pushing-the-envelope engineering engine."

Applied Materials, Mike Splinter, CEO: "Execution is often grinding and hard, so make employees part of the process."

ATT, Ed Whitacre, Former Chairman and CEO (Director Anheuser-Busch and BNSF Railway): "We want to be the only company for your entertainment and communications needs. We have the parts to do it -- we just need to execute."

AXA, Andrew Penn, CEO: "It is good execution more than strategy that separates leaders from players in the market place. It is in the execution and delivery where you succeed or fail. Ultimately, the role of the CEO is to provide a clear vision and direction and ensure it is well executed."

"I would definitely recommend your program to leaders in any type of company. I have heard many speakers over the last 38 years and I put you in the top three."
—Brookshire Grocery

Bain & Company, Chris Zook, Partner: "The company that comes up with a formula to find and execute adjacency moves can bury its competitors."

Bakes & Company, Seth Bakes, President: "There is nothing better than a good strategy well executed. On the other hand, no matter how well you execute a flawed strategy, it is still a flawed strategy. And, you cannot improve a bad strategy with good execution, but you can ruin a good strategy with poor execution."

Balderton Capital, Bernard Liautaud, General Partner (Founder Business Objects): "We are proud that we have been able to establish this strong leadership through our consistent and focused execution in the marketplace."

Bausch & Lomb, Fred Hassan, Chairman: "With a focus on execution, it's amazing how much power can be unleashed."

Bausch & Lomb, Fred Hassan, Chairman: "In the long-term it is all about being different and better. And that means innovation and execution."

Brandon Hall Group, Brandon Hall, President: "Well-executed new ideas make the world go around."

Brinker Intl., Douglas Brooks, President and CEO: "Any craftsman or artist will tell you, the success of a vision is contingent upon its execution."

BTM, Faisal Hoque, Founder, Chairman and CEO: "Execution comes from creating and managing an operating blueprint on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. The board, the CEO, the management team and employees [at every level] have to be able to do that."

Caesar's Entertainment, Gary Loveman, President: "Flawlessly executing today's strategy is a paramount concern."

Canada Life Financial Corporation, David A. Nield, Director and Former Chairman, President and CEO: "Strategies do not implement themselves, people implement them."

Catalyst, Rick Wagoner, Director: "A lot of success in this business is having a big plan and implementing it better than the next guy."

CEOs in Tumultuous Times, Ram Charan, Author Article: "The COO must be superb at execution, and the CEO and COO must be able to communicate well and resolve any differences without consuming an extraordinary amount of time."

CFO Magazine, Ready, Set, Grow?, Kate O’Sullivan, Writer: "Growth will likely spring from improved execution and a very careful reading of customer needs."

Cheese Cake Factory, David Overton, Chairman and CEO: "Bringing a Western restaurant chain to the Middle East is an exercise in patience, creativity and strong execution."

Chicago Sun-Times, Sidney Harris, Columnist: "The idealist believes the short run doesn't count. A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run."

Chief Executive, John Brandt, President & Editorial Editor: "Your first 100 days are critical not to solve the problems (years in the making) but to impress investors that you have a plan and that you can execute."

Cisco Systems, John Chambers, President and CEO: "Besides the general market performance, we can always stumble or be out-executed by our competition."

Citibank, Ed Horowitz, Corporate Executive Vice President [Re: e-Citi]: "The overall execution has gone slower than I had aspired to... People have to come up to speed with the vision, embrace it, embed it in the business plan and get it implemented in the individual business."

Citigroup, Vikram Pandit, Chairman and CEO:"CEO drives execution decisions."

Coherent, John Ambroseo, President, CEO and Director: "We can not predict where or when the bottom of this cycle occurs, but we can and will take the necessary steps to ensure that our business execution and financial performance are commensurate with our position as a market leader."

Coldwater Creek, Inc., Daniel Griesemer, President and CEO: "Let me once again emphasize that 2008 continues to be a year of transition. A year for us to reenergize and sharpen the focus of the brand and our business execution."

Colgate-Palmolive, James S. Figura, VP, Colgate-US: "Execute with excellence and simply be everywhere at once."

Comforce, John Fanning, Chairman and CEO: "Integrity, competency and innovation don't mean a thing without execution."

Constellation, Mayo Shattuck III, Chairman: "The surge in profits reflects solid execution throughout the company."

Cornell International, Alan Guarino, CEO: "It takes the perseverance to stay the course, and the ability to execute."

Crosspoint Venture Partners, Steve Foster, Associate: "There's no shortage of capital or necessary ideas, but it's incredibly difficult to find the people to execute."

Dell, Inc., Kevin Rollins, Former CEO: "We have a strategy which is a Dell Direct business model, but then the key to its success is how well we implement it day in and day out. Anytime we fail to execute it is the biggest risk by far."

Dell Online, Richard Owen, Vice President: "Customer service is still the basis of loyalty. Outstanding execution is still as important as a good strategy."

The Denver Newspaper Agency, Kirk MacDonald, Former CEO: "Adoption of a fitness-focused lifestyle helped me become more innovative and get better at execution."

Disney, Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO: "Toy Story should get made. Now, you still have to have a great story and great execution -- and in the absence of that, you shouldn't make it."

Disney Interactive Media Group, Steve Wadsworth, President: "...the new unit will operate under two global lines of business in order to provide greater coordination on global content and global business execution: Disney Interactive Studios (DIS) and Disney Online (DOL)."

Do It Best Corp., Bob Taylor, President & CEO: "What would it look like if you did it?"

Do It Best Corp., Mike McClelland, Former President and CEO: "You can xerox anything that stands still. You can't copy anything moving."

DuPont, William Reilly about Ellen Kullman, Chairman & CEO: "I think that she is exactly the right person at this time. She has a reputation -- even among people outside DuPont -- as someone who executes."

eBay, about Meg Whitman, CEO, (by Tim Bajarin, Creative Marketing Strategies): "Vision is one thing and there's a lot of that in Silicon Valley. Execution is another. She's remarkable at actually getting things done."

E*Trade, Christos Cotsakos, Former CEO: "It's always been about building the right technology and executing on that idea so that we could use that for a variety of different areas and make it a disruptive technology."

Eclipsys, Harvey Wilson, Chairman Emeritus: "We have the proven ability to execute the strategy. If we don't continue to demonstrate that we can execute it, it just becomes words on paper."

EDB, Teo Ming Kian, Chairman: "If we know what Motorola or HP is going to do over the next three to five years globally, we can shape our policies so that we have everything they need in place to quickly implement their plans."

Electronic Data Systems, Les Alberthal, Jr., Former President and CEO: "Our livelihood depends on our ability to execute the soft stuff."

Enterprise Business Services, Lori Beer, Executive Vice President: "We are focused now on executing and delivering on our strategy as efficiently and effectively as we can."

Equinix, Steve Smith, President and CEO: "The strength of Equinix's continued demand and focus on business execution will allow us to extend or market leadership position."

Ethan Allen, Edward Teplitz, EVP: "It's up to leadership to initiate the beginnings of change, and then it's up to us and those below us to implement it. Once we decide the direction we need to come up with an implementation plan and just push it through."

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Ram Charan, leading U.S. Management Consultant and Author: "The emergence of world-class companies from developing nations is a shift that portends a new global game. Their leaders are good executors who see niches in the global economy and can tap world intellectual capital and financial markets to consolidate control across their industries."

Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer: "It's about execution, doing things faster and better, getting more users and more advertisers."

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., Donald H. Layton, CEO, : "We intend to be the provider of choice. That takes leveraging our leadership positions and remaining ahead of the curve in new ideas and the means to execute them."

"As our keynoter, you successfully set the pace for the convention and created an aura of anticipation for the audience."
—Ernst & Young

Fifth Third Bancorp, George Schaefer, President: "The main difference between us and 225 different banks in Ohio, 125 to 150 thrifts and 570 credit unions is the human-service element. We focus on daily execution."

Fortinet, Ken Xie, Founder, President and CEO: "Increased market recognition, global large customer adoption and solid business execution are driving Fortinet's growth, which is outpacing the market."

Fortune, Peter Lewis, Writer: "To stay atop, you need not only flawless execution but also a blockbuster."

Fox Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, Chairman: "We've gotten the public comfortable with very high quality of execution."

Fundamentals, Jim Sullivan, Author: "Focus: knowing where and how the Fundamentals have to be applied if anything is to be executed.", Guy Kawasaki, Founder: "Either you ship a product and customers buy it, or not. That's execution and execution is why you get the big bucks and perks."

GE eXchange, Harvey Seegers, President and CEO: "In every case, the distinguishing factor between successful implementations and unsuccessful implementations is the involvement of the CEO."

General Electric, Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO: "Just worry about coming up with great ideas, getting the best people, and delivering a terrific execution. A leader is someone who can develop a vision of what he or she wants their business unit to be...and then can relentlessly drive implementation of that vision to a successful conclusion. I believe the desire and the ability, of an organization to continuously learn from any source, anywhere, and to rapidly convert this learning into action, is its ultimate competitive advantage. Information technology is the key to both the learning, as well as the rapid execution of the fruits of that learning."

General Electric, Jeff Immelt, CEO: "Everyone has a decent strategy, but how many have leaders at all levels of the organization who have the understanding, drive and skills to execute it in ways others cannot?"

Genomic Health, Kimberly Popovits, President and CEO: "My biggest focus is making sure we've got the right team in place to execute because -- clearly -- you can't do it alone."

George Mason University, Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics: "We don't need more suggestion boxes or more street mimes to fill people with a spirit of creativity. We instead need to better manage the flood of ideas we already have and to reward managers for executing them."

Giant Leap Consulting, Bill Treasurer, Founder: "When leaders make plans in a vacuum, they end up with no buy-in from the lower ranks. With no upfront buy-in, your ability to execute at the unit level is DOA."

GM, Noel Tichy, Advisor: "Execution for a dinosaur bureaucracy is rocket science."

GM, Rich Wagoner, CEO: "We're executing the turnaround plan at a pace that's faster than we thought we could."

GM, Bob Lutz, Former Vice Chairman, Marketing and Communications: "...the actual execution of messages to support the corporate strategies must be developed and executed by the marketing advertising and communications professionals."

Golden Corral, Ted Fowler, President and CEO: "You have to have a plan of where to go, how to approach a hunt in a particular field or area and then execute it."

Good to Great, Jim Collins, Author (on building enduring great companies and their executives response to change): "They respond -always- with a calm and penetrating search for understanding, followed by deliberate, thoughtful action. It's really a stream of decisions over time, brilliantly executed that accounts for great outcomes."

Google, Eric Schmidt, Former Chairman and CEO: "If you run the company as a set of extended conversations, you get a lot of buy-in, and buy-in drives execution."

Greiche and Scaff, Gayle Easterbrook, CEO: "It's the CEOs job to do the vision and the execution."

Hammer and Co., Dr. Michael Hammer, President: "Execution is extremely hard, and you need very careful metrics and instrumentation to know what you're talking about."

Harvard School of Business
, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor: "Execution means having the mental and organizational flexibility to put new business models into practice, even if they counter what you're currently doing."

Hay Group, Mel Stark, Vice President: "In today's environment, true leaders must do far more than merely meet the numbers. To effectively implement strategy, they must put people first and continually connect with and motivate their human capital."

HCA, Thomas F. Frist, Jr., MD, Former Chairman and CEO, Current Director [Strategy Statement]: "We would not now be articulating a vision based on local focus and responsibility if we did not believe in the capability and commitment of the people who run our hospitals. Therefore, we ask you to join us by taking local ownership of this strategy and its successful execution in your hospital and community."

Hewlett-Packard, Carly S. Fiorina, Former CEO (Current Cybertrust Director): "You'd have the most brilliant deal in the world, and if you don't execute, it's worth nothing. Sharpen your vision, focus and execution. Re-imagine what you can be."

Hewlett-Packard, Meg Whitman, President & CEO (by Tim Bajarin, Creative Marketing Strategies): "Vision is one thing and there's a lot of that in Silicon Valley. Execution is another. She's remarkable at actually getting things done."

Hewlett-Packard, Marius Haas, SVP: "My job is to lay out the key initiatives we need to focus on in order to execute the plan."

Hewlett-Packard, Ray Lane, Chairman: "Let's execute better while we figure out our long-term plan."

H. J. Heinz, William Johnson, Chairman, President and CEO: "One of the differentiating strengths of this company is our local autonomy and the way we execute strategy locally."

H. J. Heinz, William Johnson, Chairman, President and CEO: "Ultimately, it's knowing when to invest in an idea, when to cut your losses, and how to execute on the innovations you pursue that yields the big payoff: organic growth and value creation."

Home Depot, Inc., Dennis Donovan, Former Executive Vice President, HR: "The success of the strategy rests in people's execution."

Honeywell Intl., Larry Bossidy, Former CEO: "Success today is not simply about leading anymore. It must be about implementing, not just announcing, strategies."

HSBC Holdings, Sir John R. H. Bond, Former Chairman: "There are few original strategies in banking. There's only execution."

Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Ann Winblad, Co-founding Partner: "The most important thing we learned is that optimism cannot outweigh execution."

IBM, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Former Chairman and CEO (Current Sloan-Kettering Director): "This technology stuff is hard. And if I'm a company, what I really want is somebody who can help me implement it."

"I have heard a number of conference closing speeches over the last few years and yours has been the best."

IBM, Samuel J. Palmisano, CEO: "As the Internet and globalization widen the pool of new ideas, it's about selecting and executing the right ideas and bringing them to market in record time. The company's own execution problems were mostly to blame for first quarter earnings shortfall, adding that IBM was 'taking aggressive action' to remedy them."

Ideo Inc., Tim Brown, President and CEO: "Innovation is only valuable when you implement it beautifully and elegantly."

Inc Magazine, George Gendron, Editor-In-Chief: "It's easy for us to inadvertently convey the impression that innovative approaches to management can take care of everything. They can't. They're certainly no substitute for good, solid business execution."

InfoSys Technologies, Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman: "Leaders are people who can easily traverse the levels between the big picture and the nitty-gritty execution details."

International Paper, John Faraci, Chairman and CEO: "...there's no one lever you pull that creates a huge advantage. It's doing lots of little things well. Execution and experience becomes a competitive advantage."

Intuit, Bill Harris, Former CEO: "We always thought of ourselves as fast . . . But suddenly everyone was fast . . . The question we had was, Can we execute? Adapting to new business cycles meant rethinking certain processes we had grown comfortable with."

J.C. Penney, Allen Questrom, Chairman and CEO: "The bigger the company, the more you have to sell the strategy to the organization. The more people who understand the strategy the more likely it will get executed."

John H. Harland Company, Robert J. Amman, Former President and CEO: "While extremely important, the development of a strategy is not effective without the means to execute."

Johns Hopkins Medicine, C. Michael Armstrong, Chairman: "We had a strong quarter... it represents the execution and operation strengths of a company that's learning to [meet] its commitments."

Johnstone Supply, Gary Daniels, Former President and CEO: "Vision is nothing without action. Reaching the billion dollar sales mark is a tribute to everyone, our Independent Members, employees and corporate support people, who committed to a goal and executed through hard work and diligence."

JP Morgan Chase, David Lamere, Former CEO: "We are extremely well positioned to produce results for our clients and shareholders by having built a team of talented people who are not only excellent in their execution but are also people of integrity."

Kana Software, Inc., Michael Fields, Former CEO: "I'’m pleased with our execution in the first quarter. Our plan for 2008 is to strengthen our business execution and technology leadership within the customer service market."

Kellogg Company, Carlos M. Gutierrez, Former Chairman and CEO: "The entire organization is intensely focused on executing our plans, earning our stripes each and every day."

Kelly Services, Carl Camden President & CEO: "...another successful quarter fueled by sustained demand for temporary staffing, a healthier global economy, and Kelly’s focus on business execution and operational excellence."

Kohl's, John Herma, Director: "We do twenty simple things that have impact when taken together. The key is the consistency of execution."

Lend Lease Corporate Solutions, Ann McCallum, CEO: "The only limits to growth are those of imagination and execution."

Levi Strauss & Co., Philip Marineau, Chairman: "Market to the greatest share of opportunity and then execute those ideas flawlessly."

Lightsurf Technologies, Philippe Kahn, Founder: "In the real world, the toughest challenge is 'The Business Model and Its Execution.' An MBA provides a solid foundation. Yet, it must be coupled with innovation, teamwork and commitment."

Manpower, Jeff Joerres, Chairman & CEO: "How we're going to execute our strategy is much more difficult than it used to be, because we don'’t have the money we used to have and the time we used to have."

Manpower India, Naresh Malhan, Managing Director: "Many employers around the globe are trying to find ways for containing costs and are cautious about hiring decisions by making do with the people they have and only resorting to hiring for positions that they deem critical to their business execution."

McDonalds, Michael R. Quinlan, Former Chairman (Current Dunn & Bradstreet Director): "Our Execution Strategy identifies seven initiatives that will provide a 100% experience: hot and tasty food, fast service, food safety, accurate orders, friendliness, employee satisfaction and merchandising."

McDonalds, Jim Skinner, Former CEO and Vice-Chairman: "McDonald's business around the world remains strong, with dedicated franchises, committed suppliers and a sophisticated global system all working together to execute our Plan to Win."

McGraw-Hill, Terry McGraw, Chairman, President and CEO: "The greatest challenge for tomorrow's CEO lies in their ability to teach. The impact they can have is being able to take their experience and relate it in a way that people can better understand how to go about doing things - how to think more broadly, how an organization achieves - and what teamwork really means."

MindShare, Mark Mooradian, VP and Senior Analyst: "As companies find the Internet profoundly affecting the way they do business, they must take the time to develop a long-term strategy that a highly qualified leader and team can execute."

MokaFive, Inc., Dale Fuller, Chairman, President and CEO: "We just execute flawlessly over and over in a single direction."

Morgan Stanley, Judy Warrick, Senior Advisor, Investment Banking: "Now execution and humility are in."

Motorola, Kathy Paladino, Former President of Enterprise Mobility: "'s knowing when to invest in an idea, when to cut your losses, and how to execute on the innovations you pursue that yields the big payoff…"

Motorola, Mike Zafirovski, Former President and COO: "Execution is clearly ahead of us."

MSC Software, Bill Weyand, CEO: "Integrating MSC Software's human resources activity into one global operation will drive improved business execution worldwide."

MSCO, Mark Stevens, Founder and CEO: "Self doubt is what drives you to a conclusion. Is it the right conclusion? You don't know until you begin to execute, but you've got to start somewhere."

MTV, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Costar: "Don't forget the importance of execution. Even the most farfetched schemes can become huge successes if executed correctly."

Neo Pet, Carla Miraldi, President and CEO: "Strategy execution goes to the fabric of a company. All the threads have to be woven together just the right way for the process to work."

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg: "Hire lieutenants who can get the job done. Let's just do it."

New York City Public Schools, Joel Klein, Chancellor: "I'm not especially thin-skinned, but the things that really bug me are when we execute poorly."

Nike, Chris Zook, Head Global Strategy Practice, Bain & Co.: "The company that comes up with a formula to find and execute adjacency moves can bury its competitors. Nike is a case in-point."

NYSE Euronext, Scott Cutler, EVP: "The market is looking for companies with three prerequisite characteristics: participation in a growing industry, business execution, and market leadership."

Oracle, Larry Ellison, CEO: "Execute on virtualization."

Oracle, Mark Hurd, President: "Execution trumps vision, especially in a turnaround."

Palm Computing, Ed Colligan, Former President and CEO: "Sure, we're part of a big company. But if we keep executing the way we have been, I can't imagine anyone wanting to screw around with us."

Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, Founder: "The point was not to focus on making money: focus on doing things right, and the profits would come."

Patrick Corporation, Chris Corrigan, Former Managing Director: "I think I'm risk-averse in terms of value, but not risk-averse in terms of business execution. I'm probably at the other end of that spectrum, I take the view you only get one go at life and business, so you might as well give it all you've got."

General Patton: "A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

The Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack, Michael R. Odell, President and CEO: "We are on a mission to rebuild the culture of this great organization and we will build and grow a profitable business model to create shareholder value by returning to our core automotive roots, attending to basic business execution, and most importantly focusing on our customers."

P.H. Glatfelter Company, George Glatfelter, Former Chairman and CEO: "We will continue to focus on supply-side market discipline, solid business execution and aggressive cost control. These activities remain top priorities for the entire business."

PHormulate, Steve Bolton, Chairman: "We are looking forward to extending our approach to other aspects of running the company including state of the art marketing and business process automation, creating a foundation for efficient business execution."

Pitney Bowes, Murray Martin, Former President and CEO: "Innovation without implementation is of no value."

Pitt Theatre, Jeremy Webber President: "I like to focus on things I can do something about. I don't have to invent products. Instead, I focus on business execution, delivering quality service, and living our vision."

PNC Financial Services Group, Thomas O'Brien, Director: "The key to our success will be execution."

Portland General Electric, Jim Piro, President, CEO and Director: "Short-term results can reflect the ability of the company to execute on its strategy."

Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley Former CEO: "Our challenge was the magnitude of growth and the desire for more consistent sustainable execution to deliver more consistent and sustainable results."

PSS/World Medical, Patrick Kelly, Co-Founder: "It's not how smart you are, it's how you apply yourself that determines your success."

Rayovac Corporation, David A. Jones, Former Chairman and CEO: “It's not an objective to be No. 1 or No. 2. Our objective is to execute our model."

RCCL, Harri Kulovaara, EVP Maritime: "I've been involved in the building of 35 ships. Execution is relatively easy, compared with finding talent."

The Reader's Digest Association, Eric W. Schrier, Director: "We must operate beyond individual comfort zones to ensure that we don't lose focus on first-rate innovation and execution to keep our traditional print and direct mail businesses thriving."

Reengineering The Corporation, James Champy, Co-Author: "High achievers recognize the connection between quality and value. They see that social and economic value is created through effective execution."

Royal Dutch Shell, Peter Voser, CEO: "I like to keep things simple and clear in the way I run the company. For me the execution needs to be competitive."

R.R. Donnelley, Direct, Tim Stratman, CEO: "A good execution plan is an invisible hand that moves the unimportant stuff out of the way so that people can focus on what really needs to happen."

Russell Reynolds Associates, Charles Tribbett III, Co-Leader, CEO/ and Board Services Practice: "It's one thing to sit around the table and be passionate and excited about diversity, but it's another to actually roll up your sleeves and execute it."

Shell Global Solutions, Jose Brave, Chief Scientist: "One of Europe's premier companies has created innovation processes that foster global collaboration and bridge the critical gap between new ideas and profitable business execution."

Shutterfly, Jeffrey Housenbold, President, CEO and Director: "I created a culture, shifting us from the mentality of surviving the dot-com bubble to one of knowing the customer better than out competition, out-innovating them and out-executing them."

Siemens AG, Peter Loscher, President and CEO: "I very much try to implement an execution culture. For me it's very important to have an execution culture in place because it's not about brilliance of strategy."

Silver Lake Partners, Dave Roux, General Partner: "Money and ideas are easy to come by. In fact, there's a surplus of money in Silicon Valley. What's missing is execution."

Southern Company, David Ratcliffe, CEO: "We have a good strategy and a good implementation plan, with the right people to get it done."

Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, Former CEO: "The concept is simple, but the execution takes a lot of work and a lot of attention."

Spencer Stuart, Tom Neff, Chairman: "The board should consider giving a vote of support to the CEO and giving him or her a chance to execute a viable strategy that may require more time to implement. CEOs must understand both business strategy and the process of implementation."

Sprint, William T. Esrey, Former Chairman (Current General Mills Director): "The biggest hurdles are execution - We're working with a number of key vendors - and marketing."

The Stanley Works, John M. Trani, Former Chairman and CE: , "Those who learn the art of execution win, and those who do not fail."

Staples, Thomas Stemburg, Former Chairman and CEO (current Nasdaq Director): "Execution and detail are everything."

Starbucks, Howard Schultz, President, CEO and Chairman: "Experience has taught me that it's easy to talk about values, hard to implement them, and even harder for an outsider to determine which values are heartfelt and which are window-dressing."

Steelcase, Jim P. Hackett, President and CEO: "You won't have the respect of your peers if you're allowed to sit back and theorize about a problem without having to do it."

Stephen Sondheim: "Everything depends on execution, having just a vision is no solution."

SunTrust Banks, Annual Report: "At SunTrust...success is equally dependent on execution, and execution is dependent on a good team working together to put plans into action."

Sunrise Senior Living, Paul Klassen, Chairman: "A promise to develop and successfully execute a business strategy that delivers strong results."

, John W. Thompson, Former Chairman, CEO: "We have a very motivated and excited team that has the capability to execute well against the goals that we've set for ourselves."

Symbol Technologies, William R. (Bill) Nuti, Former President, CEO, COO, Director: "We're confident of the vision. We're confident in what we need to do operationally, from a strategy point of view. We've executed Corporate America's best practices with respect to organizational and cultural change programs."

Symbol Technologies, Todd Abbott, Senior Vice President World Wide Operations: "With our strategy, Symbol Technologies has the opportunity to define the enterprise mobility reference architecture in the market. Now it is up to each one of us to execute."

Synopsys, Aart de Geus, Chairman and CEO: Defines the Synopsys culture or employer brand, first as being a technology leader and second as "an ethical, high-quality company that executes well."

"When your presentation ended, I was energized and inspired to go out and try something new. On a scale of 1 to 10, yours was a perfect 100."
—General Electric Power Systems

Target, Robert Ulrich, Former Chairman and CEO: "It's not rocket science, but people need to be motivated. It's a more difficult strategy to executive if you're not."

TBWA\Worldwide, Jean-Marie Dru, Chairman: "Disruption has always been there. The only difference is people used to talk about it but didn't implement."

Teoco, Atul Jain, Chairman and CEO: "First to market doesn't always win. It's all about execution."

Textron, Stuart Grief, VP Strategy and Business Development: "If a company’s doing poorly, one of the first worthwhile diagnoses is an assessment of the quality of the strategy and its execution."

The Five Temptations Of A CEO, Patrick Lencioni, Author: "I think that having a great vision and mission is only important if you know how to execute. I’ll take a well-executing company over a visionary one any day."

The Five Temptations Of A CEO, Patrick Lencioni, Author: "Many of the CEOs I’ve worked with over the years secretly see themselves as chief technology, marketing, sales or innovation officers, and underestimate the 'execution' part of their role, which is most important."

Thomas Edison: "Vision without execution is a hallucination."

Tom Peters Group, Tom Peters, CEO: "The reality in most organizations is that execution too often turns into talking about execution. It becomes talking instead of doing. You must build a unified organization that is quick, bold and knows how to execute."

Tornante Company, Michael Eisner, CEO: "In addition to having valuable ideas, you must have an organization that can follow through and execute that good idea. A lot of people have good ideas, but not that many do anything about them."

Trendspotting, Robyn Waters, Speaker and Author (The Hummer and the Mini), "I have a mantra that I use for implementing great ideas: Make it real. Keep it simple. Make it happen. Too many great ideas fall by the wayside for lack of execution."

Tyler Perry Studios, Roger Bobb, Producer: "You've got to get it right, whatever it takes, for our vision to be implemented efficiently and instantaneously."

Unisys, Lawrence A. Weinback, Former Chairman, President, and CEO (Current UBS Director): "Vision and strategy are important, but the key to success is execution. What's behind this success? At Unisys, it comes down to two key factors: focus and execution. Execution is what will distinguish the winners from the losers. We've also spent a lot of time communicating and educating people about the importance of execution."

University of Alabama, Nick Saban, Coach: "Keep players and coaches focused on execution — yes, another word for process — rather than results."

UPS, Tom Weidemeyer, Former COO (Current Goodyear Director): "When we've had challenges executing, it's primarily been because we didn't truly understand the full nature of the undertaking and what it would take to be successful."

USAA, Robert T. Herres, Former Chairman and CEO: "It's easy to recognize the need for strategic planning: getting it right is the hard part."

VF Imageware, Mackey McDonald, Former Chairman: "...we didn't have to come up with brilliant ideas — we needed brilliant ways of executing good ideas."

Virgin, Sir Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman: "I can have an idea in the morning and have it implemented in the evening."

Volvo Financial Services, Sal Mauro, President and CEO: "The 'Big 5' tool, our appreciation for speed in decision making and our distaste for bureaucracy are advantageous to executing our plans decisively."

Walker Dental, Jay S. Walker, Former Chairman and CEO: "Execution is what keeps you up at night."

Wall Street Journal, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: [Regarding Michael Eisner, Disney's CEO] "Disney under Mr. Eisner has proved the military wisdom that, more than a perfect plan, what counts is energetic, opportunistic execution."

Walt Disney's Four Pillars Of Success: "I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true."

Warnaco, Linda Wachner, Former CEO: "There are a few people in life who know how to think, and in our economy, the rewards are sensational for those people who can make things happen."

WebMD, Jeffrey Arnold, Former Chairman and CEO (Current Premier Global Services Director): "What keeps me up at night is that we've made big promises to big companies, and now we have to execute on them all."

Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Arnold Brown, Chairman: "If knowledge was power, college professors would rule the world. Execution is power. Execution is everything."

Wells Fargo, Richard M. Kovacevich, Former Chairman (On Distribution Strategy): "A vision and a strategy aren't enough. The long term key to success is execution. Each day. Everyday. The employees of your company continue to execute very well. Our success has nothing to do with planning, it has to do with execution."

Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, Chairman, President and CEO: "We could leave our strategic plan on an airplane, and it wouldn'’t matter. It's all about execution."

Westpac, David Morgan, Former CEO: "The most common reason CEOs fail is due to failures of execution, by getting too far away from the business. Execution was, is and always remains the number one priority, the 'must do' part of the job."

XOJet, Paul Touw, Chairman and CEO: "Like my father told me, there’s always money for great ideas and good business execution."

Yahoo! Inc., Jerry Yang, Co-Founder: "The execution of our business plan has been key to the company's success.

Zebra Technologies, Anders Gustafsson, CEO: "Strong business execution led to high international and North American sales growth for specialty printing and a sharp increase in our enterprise solutions business."


Fortune Magazine says 70% of CEOs Fail because they don't take action.

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