Can a PB&J Boost Business Success?

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As I recently indulged in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it struck me: A PB&J is a lot like a successful business.

In today’s disruptive, rapidly changing business environment, to win in the marketplace, it’s critical to have both a superior strategy and the robust capabilities to support it.

Equated to a PB&J, think of strategy as the protein-packed foundational layer of peanut butter and capabilities as the delicious coating of jelly that magnifies and enhances it.

Just as peanut butter and jelly alone do not make a sandwich, strategy and capabilities are not enough to guarantee business success.

What’s missing?

Execution: the powerful ability to get things done. Yes, effective execution is the unassuming, underappreciated bread in a PB&J. Just as the bread acts as a delivery vehicle to transport all the gooey sandwich goodness, execution is what turns strategy and capabilities into concrete actions that drive performance.

So how and why are some companies able to execute so well year after year? My recent research study aimed to find out. Numerous interviews with employees from two successful companies revealed five “execution drivers” to be the keys to their success. 

Measurement: As one interviewee succinctly stated, “We measure everything.” This was top of mind for all employees at both companies.

Communication: Requires a constantly changing mix of methods and frequency based on business needs

Quality people: Those with drive, attitude and a predisposition to act

Autonomy, flexibility and nimbleness: Companies providing individuals the freedom to operate, change and adapt as they deem necessary

Teamwork: Collaboration that both unifies members and magnifies their individual performances

While each execution driver had a significant, positive impact on company performance, my research found that the combination of the drivers was much greater than the sum of its parts. Interwoven and deeply connected, these five drivers together formed a catalytic capability of execution for both companies.

Can a PB&J Boost Business Success? I think so.

Like peanut butter and jelly without the bread to hold it together, even the most superior strategy and robust capabilities without proper execution will leave you with just one thing: a mess.

Bob Keimer ’18 DBA is an assistant professor of management and program chair for online programs at Bisk College of Business. Keimer has also held senior operating management positions at several private, public and start-up companies throughout his 30-year career.

 

This story was featured in the Spring 2019 Edition of the Florida Tech Magazine. Read the full magazine here. 

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