Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Version: Unabridged
Author: Larry Bossidy , Ram Charan
Narrator: Larry Bossidy
Genres: Business & Economics, Management & Leadership
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: December 2002
# of Units: 7 CDs
Length: 8 hours
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The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job

Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

After a long, stellar career with General Electric, Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world’s most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. Accomplishments such as 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more didn’t just happen; they resulted from the consistent practice of the discipline of execution: understanding how to link together people, strategy, and operations, the three core processes of every business.

Leading these processes is the real job of running a business, not formulating a “vision” and leaving the work of carrying it out to others. Bossidy and Charan show the importance of being deeply and passionately engaged in an organization and why robust dialogues about people, strategy, and operations result in a business based on intellectual honesty and realism.

The leader’s most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated. As a CEO, Larry Bossidy personally makes the calls to check references for key hires. Why? With the right people in the right jobs, there’s a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies that can be executed. People then work together to create a strategy building block by building block, a strategy in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. Once the right people and strategy are in place, they are then linked to an operating process that results in the implementation of specific programs and actions and that assigns accountability. This kind of effective operating process goes way beyond the typical budget exercise that looks into a rearview mirror to set its goals. It puts reality behind the numbers and is where the rubber meets the road.

Putting an execution culture in place is hard, but losing it is easy. In July 2001 Larry Bossidy was asked by the board of directors of Honeywell International (it had merged with AlliedSignal) to return and get the company back on track. He’s been putting the ideas he writes about in Execution to work in real time.

Reviews (13)

Written by Joshua C. on April 18th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Just a poor bland book . Nothing here that really is eye catching also the title is deceiving a better approach to the execution topic I recommend “the dichotomy of leadership” by jocko willink keeps you engaged and breaks down topics without over repeating itself like this book does ... not a fan

Written by Beth Pederson on October 14th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

fantastic for business owner to read. good information with examples. the focus is in bigger businesses but applicable to small business

Invaluable For Leaders

Written by Mark Kaplan on November 13th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Beyond the simple concept of executing, this is a valualbe & detailed review on what it takes to be an effective Top Level Leaders. Great concepts and real world examples. But may be tedious & inefficient for mid-level manages. It is what it is!

Interesting business book - a basic idea that shouldn't be

Written by Anonymous from Petaluma, CA on June 12th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Definitely a worthwhile investment of commuting hours - not as exciting as some of the recent business books, but some very solid advice that fills a gap in the market - what's the point of a great plan if no one has the focus on executing it?

Meant for executives

Written by Daniel Taibi on October 31st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

If you're looking for a book that has case-study type analysis of CEO performance and action, this is the book for you. Not being an executive, I couldn't appreciate all of the information. But maybe you are an executive or a manager ... at the very least it is full of interesting stories.

Didn't work for me

Written by Anonymous on September 5th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

If you are looking for practical advice on how to better get things done, use your time for something else. This was a high-level dissertation not a how-to guide. It did not hold my attention and I gave up on the 2nd CD.


Written by Dave Paulson on June 7th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I'm rating this three stars based on pure content. The book is rife with points of importance for readers interested in improving their understanding of what it takes to successfully operate a business unit. It does make it's point that "execution" is at the heart of success, but the impact of the point is diminished because of the structure and flow of the writing. The structure is somewhat confusing. Points are made more in passing than emphasized through structure and iteration. Because of this structure, the text is probably much more conducive to print media than audio.

Long & Boring

Written by Anonymous from New York, NY on April 13th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 2/5

This book was too long, too boring, and for the most part, not full of useful information. Don't waste your time.

Organizational Ideas & Leadership

Written by Anonymous from Orlando, FL on February 20th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This book is a wealth of organizational ideas. It also has many insights to great leadership. Although the use of many readers is usually a way to hold your attention, the use of a reader with an accent was a distraction and hard to follow.


Written by Anonymous on February 15th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 1/5

This book does not present real ways to enhance execution. It simply makes blanket, generic comments about past events that conveniently reinforce the author's premise. This book is being touted as such a great business book but I didn't get any actionable items from it.

Author Details

Author Details

Bossidy, Larry

"Few individuals bring to their audiences the wealth of experience and accomplishment that has made Larry Bossidy one of the most respected executives in recent history. In his presentations, Larry shares the tested, concrete lessons of his exemplary career, advice that has made his book Execution a BusinessWeek Bestseller for nearly two years. His next book, Confronting Reality: Master the New Model for Success, is due in October, 2004. Larry Bossidy is the former CEO of Honeywell.

Larry?s bestselling Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done is a hard-nosed guide to the practical necessities of successful leadership in a competitive global economy. Proving that execution is a learnable discipline, Bossidy warns that it often involves grunt work and it?s often ignored or delegated by senior leaders?yet it?s a leader?s primary job. Effective execution requires relentless questioning, analyzing, following-through, and problem solving?and it demands that you face reality. There are more than 1.5 million copies of Execution in print worldwide.

Where Execution was about how to get things done, Larry?s next book will be about defining what needs to be done in the face of today?s sweeping changes. Confronting Reality addresses a company?s basic business model for making money, providing managers with a big-picture view of the structural changes affecting business and with strategic tools for confronting this reality effectively. This practical survival manual promises to be as indispensable to leaders at all levels of the corporation as its predecessor, Execution, has been.

Larry learned the art of execution through his decades as a successful leader in two of our premier organizations. In his stellar 34-year career at General Electric, he rose to vice chairman and brought the company back to double-digit growth. By focusing relentlessly on executing growth, management development and Six Sigma-based productivity initiatives, he turned Allied Signal into one of the world?s most admired companies in his nine years as CEO, highlighted by 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13% or more and an eight-fold appreciation of the company?s share price. He shepherded Allied Signal and Honeywell through their historic merger and other crises with similar success until his retirement. Larry Bossidy now serves on the boards of directors of several major corporations and works with CEOs and other senior executives to improve their company?s execution and performance.

Quote: ?Good people come to companies and stay because they believe they have a chance to expand their capabilities and fulfill their destiny. You have an obligation to help them.?"

Charan, Ram

"Ram Charan is a highly acclaimed business advisor, speaker and author. Ram has coached some of the world?s most successful CEOs. For 35 years, he has worked behind the scenes at companies like GE, DuPont, Novartis, Pharmacia, Warner Lambert, Duke Energy, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Schering-Plough, Smith-Kline and Verizon.

Ram started his business career as a teenager working in the family shoe shop in India. He went on to earn an engineering degree and then MBA and doctorate degrees from Harvard Business School. He graduated from Harvard with high distinction and was a Baker Scholar. He then served on the Harvard Business School faculty.

Ram is known for his practical, real world perspective. His expertise runs deep in several areas of business:

* Profitable Growth * Business Acumen
* Leadership * Tools for Changing a Social System
* Corporate Governance * Global Matrix Organization
* Execution: Discipline of Getting Things Done * Innovation
* Succession & Leadership Pipeline * Building Top Management Teams

Ram is a favorite among executive educators. He won the Bell Ringer (best teacher) award at GE?s famous Crotonville Institute. He won the Best Teacher Award at Wharton and Northwestern. He was among Business Week?s top ten resources for in-house executive development programs.

Ram is a well-known author, whose books include Execution, written with Larry Bossidy, the former CEO of Honeywell. Execution reached number one on the Wall Street Journal list, and has been on the New York Time?s best-seller list for more than fifty weeks. Ram's other books include What the CEO Wants You to Know, Boards at Work, and Every Business Is a Growth Business. He also tailors his books for specific client companies such as Gateway, Ford and EDS. His new book Profitable Growth was released January 2004.

He's written articles for the Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Time, Information Week, Leader to Leader, Director's Monthly, Directorship, The Corporate Board and USA Today.

Ram is a director of Austin Industries and The Six Sigma Academy. He was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources. He serves as a co-host for the Fortune Forum on Corporate Governance and also serves on the National Association of Corporate Directors? Blue Ribbon Commission on Corporate Governance. Ram is based in Dallas, Texas."