Flawless Execution

Use the Techniques and Systems of America's Fighter Pilots to Perform at Your Peak and Win the Battles of the Business World

by James D. Murphy

Number of pages: 240

Publisher: Harper Business

BBB Library: Operations Management

ISBN: 9780060760496

About the Author

James D. Murphy is the CEO of Afterburner, Inc., a consulting firm he founded in 1996 after four years in sales management and eight years as a fighter pilot.


Editorial Review

The instrument panel in a fighter jet plane is screaming out information, the horizon is a blur, the wingman is occupied, the pilot is busy, the jet is hanging on the edge and there is a mission to be accomplished. What you might ask; does this have to do with the way you run your company or business? On a parallel level, the fast-paced, dynamic world of business, often poses the same stress. In both cases, there is a mission or project to accomplish, an extensively detailed plan to follow, reach what you are targeting, accomplish your mission and return to your home base; victorious and sound. The means that fighter pilots follow to achieve a successful mission is known as flawless execution. Most air forces have rigorous training plans that if applied to your business, could very well do the same for you. The following will take us into flawless execution and all the steps and applications of it.

Book Reviews

"Your business can take a lesson from the American military's fighter pilots. At Mach 2, the instrument panel of an F-15 is screaming out information, the horizon is a blur, the wingman is occupied, the jet is hanging on the edge — and yet fighter pilots routinely handle the stress. It's not much different in today's unforgiving business world. One slipup and your company is bankrupt before your employees know what hit them. What works on the squadron level for F-15 pilots will also work for your marketing team, sales force, or research and development group. By analyzing the work environment and attacking its centers of gravity in parallel, you'll begin to utilize the Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Win cycle that will rapidly impact your business's future success. U.S. fighter squadrons have been using this program for nearly fifty years to reduce their mistake rate, cut casualties and equipment losses, and rack up an envious victory record. Now, withFlawless Execution, your business can too."Barnes&Noble.com

"This book is a succinct summary of all that is wrong in many companies. Larry and Ram analyze many of the most dysfunctional behaviors seen in large corporations and lay out some steps to address them. While many of their stories focus on senior management and execution failures, their suggestions and guidelines work just as well for all levels of management." Fair Isaac Corporation

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Wisdom to Share

As it implies, flawless execution means to carry out an act without fault; in other words, perfection.

In the fighter pilot world, flawless execution is, indeed, all about making mistakes and correcting them.

“Flawless Execution doesn’t mean you do things so well that you smoke the opposition; it doesn’t mean your opposition is going to roll over; it certainly doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong. Flawless Execution is all about expecting things to go wrong—and handling it.”

The future picture is the view of the future as we would like something to be. In order for you and your company to execute properly, your future picture must be of extremely high resolution.

The completeness of that future picture is what makes it work. It’s this future picture that pushes everyone in a common direction.

You can have the best execution in the world, but if you execute against the wrong things you will lose.

It is better to attack your centers of gravity in parallel—rapidly, all at once. You shock the system and put it in a new energy state.

Break up the members of your team in order to brainstorm to come up with potential courses of action.

Business leaders must be well prepared for the ‘what ifs’ of the business world.

In the air force, timing is everything. If briefings for pilots are late, rushed or sloppy, so will be their missions. Your business should be taken just as seriously and just as punctual.

Pilots don’t know what will happen, but they do know what they’ll do when it does. Businesses should not be any different.

People’s errors are the exception, not the rule. More often than not, organizational processes, organizational behaviors and system failures are the true culprits.