It’s the secret sauce behind every successful startup. You can sense it when you’re in the workspace of a winning team. You can hear it—like the kitchen clatter of an up-and-coming restaurant that’s firing on all cylinders. Teams who have it carry themselves with an authentic swagger that goes beyond cool t-shirts and edgy mascots; their confidence flows from beating their goals month in and month out.
What is “it”? It’s The Big Mo—as in The Big Momentum. But the daily swirl of startup life can kill momentum if you aren’t deliberate about creating a culture of execution.
These 10 execution principles and practices helped CONSENSUS™ develop a culture of execution and acquire over 100 customers in just over 12 months, ranging from SMBs to enterprises like Autodesk, HP and Microsoft.
1. Cross-link incentives. Balance short-term demands with long-term viability by creating incentives for teams to work together on shared outcomes. For example, staking a percentage of salespeople’s commissions on the customer success team’s retention goals can form a healthy check and balance against overpromising in the sales process.
2. Track big goals publicly. Clarify the goals that will have the biggest impact on your business, and then track them publicly. Nothing motivates like peer review and knowing that your team is counting on you to deliver—not to mention that when teams fall behind, anyone can contribute good ideas to help them get back on track.
3. Front-load the work. As serial entrepreneur Adam Slovik (TenFold, Remedy Informatics, Bankado) teaches, if you’ve completed just 50 percent of a project at the halfway point, you’re actually behind schedule because surprises are bound to happen. Working several late nights early on in a project is better than trying to pull a series of all-nighters in the eleventh hour, where you risk making mistakes from fatigue and burning out your team.
4. Make meetings accountable. Designate a scribe for all meetings. Take notes digitally in real-time. Recap decisions made and action items assigned before the meeting ends, while everyone is still present. Immediately email the recap to all participants to avoid lag time.
5. Test your assumptions. Like A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin suggest in Playing to Win, their must-read book on strategy, ask your team: “What would have to be true for that to happen?” Answering this simple question helps draw out the underlying assumptions behind a recommendation. You can also settle differences of opinion by allowing competing skeptics to set the performance standards for one another’s initiatives.
6. Prioritize your work and negotiate changes. Develop a list of things that need to be done in priority order so junior team members always know what to work on next. Make as much progress as you can on your top priorities, then start working on the next-most important item on the list. Negotiate trade-offs with your boss when she gives you competing priorities: “Would you prefer that I deliver the original goal by this date, or meet the new goal by this date?” Better yet, meet both objectives by finding help through an outsourcing service like Upwork.
7. Recommend solutions and provide options. Never bring a problem to your boss. Always make recommendations to solve the problems you uncover. Describe the situation and offer options for fixing it. Facilitate timely decisions by anticipating questions and providing context for the implications different choices could have.
8. Set triggers. For time-sensitive decisions, set reasonable deadlines that automatically trigger an action plan. If the decision maker chooses not to respond by that deadline, assume her approval and move forward.
9. Ask for help. Proactively describe the help you need to successfully meet a deadline—and explain what the consequences will be if you don’t receive it. If you fall behind, don’t try to hide it. Instead, take responsibility for where things are and invite ideas from your boss and colleagues on how to correct the course.
10. Celebrate small wins along the way. Find meaningful—not necessarily expensive or elaborate—ways to highlight intermediate successes. Reward results that signal forward progression. This is especially important for projects with long time horizons. Allow the team to savor the moment and feel your appreciation before opening the floodgates to the next phase of work.
Teams don’t acquire The Big Mo without first being able to execute. Once you create a culture of execution and act on it, you’ll be surprised by how quickly momentum swings your way.
CONSENSUS is Software as a Service (SaaS) that intelligently creates and automates product demos to drive buying consensus and accelerate B2B sales. Our Consensus™ buying acceleration platform personalizes video and documents to each stakeholder so the entire buying group can achieve consensus and make a fast, confident purchase decision. Our Demolytics™ dashboard helps you discover and engage the entire buying group by gathering demo analytics and tracking who’s involved, what parts of your story are important to them, and who they shared your demo with. Clients have cut their sales cycles by 68% and jumped close rates by 44%.