August 2022 | Nano Tools | 

Top Four Approaches for Upping Your Execution Game

Top Four Approaches for Upping Your Execution Game

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

The Goal

Get better at getting things done, whether it’s executing strategic initiatives, leading projects across the finish line, or achieving personal and team goals.

Nano Tool

Wharton Nano Tools have tackled the challenge of execution from many angles, sharing actionable leadership advice from many Wharton experts. These four are at the top of the list:

How Leaders Use Them

  • Deloitte gamified its leadership training program after having trouble getting executives to start and complete it. They added gamified features with the help of Badgeville to encourage participation and measure how many people were participating. The badges, leaderboards, and status symbols dropped the average completion time by 50 percent and increased the number of daily users of the program by almost 50 percent.
  • When Tyler Odean was product leader for Chrome at Google, he wanted to go forward with a controversial project. A senior engineer disagreed. “For various reasons,” he says, “that person was not able to attend the decision meeting. It would have been really easy to run up the scoreboard and only present arguments in my favor. But that would have worked against the team's desire to understand the truth. I worked hard to represent the case that the engineer would have made if he had been there. When the decision was made to go with my proposal, no one felt like it was a gimmick. I wasn’t trying to sweep his arguments under the rug but instead treated them with respect. I was an honorable debate partner.”
  • A department head of a public sector organization was facing poor morale, no mutual trust, and rumors of impending resignations. He wanted to change the culture to one with an aggressive work ethic, increased teamwork, and positive emotions and enthusiasm. For his first seven months, he personally demonstrated these values frequently and consistently. He also built in structural supports, including a team identity, awards, celebrations, integration of teamwork in performance appraisal criteria, and changes in the physical structure of the department to better support interaction as a team. Within a year, the department went from people leaving the department to more people trying to transfer in than there were positions available.
  • After many years as a market leader, a mid-sized Texas company had no new offerings and was losing market share and competitive advantage. With a goal of developing new products, they used the Responsibility Matrix to clarify roles and responsibilities. New product development increased significantly, and the company even published a “Guide to New Product Development” that explained who was responsible at every step of the process, ensuring that future execution efforts would be handled properly.

Contributors to This Nano Tool

Wharton professors Katy Milkman (James G. Dinan Endowed Professor; Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions); G. Richard Shell (Thomas Gerrity Professor; Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics; Professor of Management); Sigal Barsade (deceased, Joseph Frank Bernstein Professor of Management); Lawrence Hrebiniak (Emeritus Associate Professor of Management)

About Nano Tools

Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, director of Custom Programs at Wharton Executive Education. Nano Tools for Leaders® is a collaboration between joint sponsors Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. This collaboration is led by Professors Michael Useem and John Paul MacDuffie.

Download this Nano Tool as a PDF