Why “Flawless Execution” is Hurting Your Team

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I hear more and more about this idea of “flawless execution.” I read it in job descriptions. I hear it in town halls. It’s misguided at best. It’s detrimental at worst.

In all business, especially digital marketing, risk taking (a.k.a testing) is critical. Coming up with innovative approaches to solve problems and trying different combinations of marketing strategies and tactics to reach your goals inevitably means some things won’t work. But other things will. Implicit in “flawless execution” is the idea that failure is not an option. The concept frames that any effort undertaken by an organization will be successful – this is completely unrealistic.

Holding a team to an unattainable standard creates a risk-averse environment. It mutes creativity and limits potential because team members would rather work within a space they’re familiar with, thereby increasing the likelihood that they can achieve “flawless execution.” Now I am certainly not advocating for being reckless. Conversely, being thoughtful, and having foresight, should always be a priority in business and marketing. But we need to strike the right balance with our teams – a balance that helps them feel safe so they’re open to exercise creativity and fail, all while being thoughtful in their endeavours.

Maybe we should reframe it? Thoughtful execution? Purposeful execution? How have you seen this handled at your organization?

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