J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Flawless Execution

Flawless Execution

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In the book Flawless Execution, James D. Murphey, shares techniques used by fighter pilots to achieve peak performance, accelerate the learning curve, and make performance more predictable and repeatable.

The essence of the execution engine is a set of iterative steps:

  • Plan.  Evaluate multiple courses of action, evaluate them, and take the best parts.
  • Brief.  Tell everybody how we're going to carry out the plan and what we're going to do today.
  • Execute.  Act out the script you created in the brief.
  • Debrief.  Evaluate execution errors and successes.

Murphy connects the execution framework to the strategy.  If they aren't aligned, you can win the battle, but lose the war.  He distinguished strategy from tactices, by saying strategy is about four things:

  1. Where are we going to be?
  2. What are we going to apply resources for or against?
  3. How are we going to do this?
  4. When are we going to stop doing this?

Murphy is very prescriptive.  For every technique, there's a set of steps and checkpoints.  I've successfully scaled down some of the techniques, such as Future Picture, to meet my needs. 

What I like about the overall execution framework is that its practices are drawn from life and death scenarios.  Fighter pilots need to learn what works from their missions, and share it as quickly as possible.  What I also like is that Murphey illustrates how ordinary people, are capable of execution excellence.

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