Achieve Sustainable Execution by Institutionalizing Your Execution System

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In an earlier blog, we compared 4DX (4 Dimensions of Execution) and ETW (Execute To Win), two currently popular systems designed to execute corporate strategy. In today’s blog entry, we focus on the extent to one of these (ETW) is much more effective in helping companies achieve sustainable success.

Effective execution of a strategy requires that it be designed to give you a Competitive Advantage against competitors, and that your organization has the proper structure and culture to implement it properly. However, that’s not enough for sustainable success; for long-term sustainable growth the system has to be institutionalized as a fundamental component of the business’s management system.

ETW uniquely institutionalizes its execution system to engage 100% of the employees, 100% of the time. Starting with the senior management team, and then cascading the process through all layers of the organization, ETW requires that you:

  • Identify the mission & cultural values of the organization to which everyone must be aligned
  • Define the specific job and leadership activities in which each employee must engage in support of the strategy
  • Determine an objective scoring system to rate the person from 0-10 on each criteria
  • Determine frequency of evaluations, from monthly to annually
  • Require that each supervisor and employee at these intervals engage in conversations on how well the employee is doing and discuss continuous improvement – what he/she has to do to achieve the standards set.

Indeed, the developer of ETW, Able Engineering, has experienced seven consecutive years of 20+% annual growth by using the system.

Data from each conversation are recorded in the computerized database (residing in the cloud), enabling each manager to:

  • Measure the extent to which each employee achieves the desired alignment, strategic performance and leadership activities
  • Compare how each employee’s ratings over time and relative to other team members
  • Compare how each team is doing relative to others, with teams defined as narrowly or widely as appropriate (e.g., workgroups, departments, plants, countries, etc.)

By institutionalizing the business management system so everyone records and reviews the data year round, the system itself creates momentum for greater execution success over time.  Moreover, the data give management the benefit of analyzing data to provide additional valuable information. For instance, it’s easy to:

  • Identify employee superstars who should be fast-tracked for senior positions;
  • Rank employees by overall achievement scores (as Jack Welch recommends – bottom 10%, middle 70%, top 20%) in order to focus appropriate management discussions;
  • Link bonus/compensation plans to successful achievement of strategic priorities.


In sum, ETW offers a superior execution system by institutionalizing the intentional culture focused on achieving strategic priorities, management talent and holding people accountable.

Jerry Cahn, PhD., JD, is a Vistage chair and a certified consultant for ETW. For more information on ETW, visit or; for a WebEx-demo, contact