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Leaders, Teams, Cats and Mice – What do they have to do with execution?

In an old and wonderful Aesop fairy tale, the only thing that stood between a house full of mice and their complete happiness was the cat. The mice got together one evening and came up with various plans to deal with the danger of the cat. They all voted on one brilliant idea; they would hang a bell around the cat’s neck. Then wherever it went, the bell would warn them of danger if it got closer. All of the mice jumped and clapped at the idea. The only problem was getting volunteers to hang the bell around the cat’s neck! Mouse

Coming up with brilliant ideas can be easy, it’s another thing to implement them. The following suggestions are simple, but in my experience as a consultant they are not used very often by leaders, hence the reason for poor execution among teams.

1.    Assign someone ownership of the task(s). Make sure someone takes ownership for hanging the bell. Otherwise it may never get hung and things may get worse.

2.    Assign due dates to each task that needs to be completed. Without a due date the task will never become a priority. And pointing fingers won’t matter because the cat will already have had her fair share of mice by then.

3.    Ensure everyone is clear on what needs to be done. Check for clarity. If the mouse assigned to hang the bell around the cat’s neck thought you said to hang it on the cat’s foot, that mouse could put him or the team in danger.

4.    Once the task has been assigned, follow up. Require a return and report on the completion of the task(s). Without a return and report you will either assume the bell got hung or not know; both can be dangerous to the other mice.

What tips do you have on ensuring the bell gets hung? Please comment.

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Mike Rogers

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