Failure to Execute is Costly

“Most games are lost, not won.” – Casey Stengel

Most of you are too young to know who Casey Stengel is. He was a successful manager of the dynastic New York Yankees in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

I spent the weekend watching football games. I thought of this statement as I watched game after game decided by mistakes rather than superior plays. Penalties at the wrong time. Fumbles or interceptions. Coaching decisions gone bad. All leading to closer games or decisive losses. For most games, the losing coach thoughtfully analyzed what went wrong as compared to how a superior opponent won.

Our game of business is a lot like this. Occasionally, we have unexpected poor results. It occurred to me that when I’m called to explain poor results to others, I usually end up talking like a defeated coach.

“We raised prices too slowly.”

“We got stuck with too much inventory.”

“We didn’t have enough inventory.”

“Weather affected our sales.”

“We broke some equipment.”

“We had more injuries.”

“We had to replace some product due to quality issues.”

Here’s the point. Execution puts us in the position to win. Our failure to execute usually is much more costly than what we gain when we execute successfully.

The customer pays us to execute. It’s what we do and it’s what our competition does.

To be sure, it pays to be the best at what we do. That contributes to our success. What contributes more is when we do it without mistakes.