Albu On Strategy

Execution Intelligence (XQ)—Without it, You Can’t Succeed

If you have been following our newsletters, you know we are fans of Harvey McKay, author of several books including one of his original books, Swim With the Sharks, and his most recent, The McKay MBA of Selling in the Real World.

In a recent newsletter, McKay wrote about the importance of execution. Consultants would call it execution intelligence or XQ—establishing execution as an internal competency in your organization. McKay described it as “the ability to convert smarts and plans into action.” Ideas are great, as are plans, but converting an idea and plan to successful results is what really counts. As the comedian Larry the Cable Guy would say, “Git ‘er done.”

Our clients are all smart. They understand their business inside and out, but occasionally we meet a very smart leadership team that lacks execution intelligence and that leadership team might not be as successful as they could be.

If I can quote one more person, according to teleseminar guru Alex Mandossian (, developing your XQ involves several key points:

  • “Don’t focus on complex solutions or even elegant ones. Sometimes we get too mired in details to see the logical end. Complicating your progress is counterproductive.”
  • “Execution intelligence forces you to zero in on answers that are pure action. Don’t stall in the thinking stage. That’s when you get bogged down in meetings, memos, and reinventing the wheel, and never reach a conclusion.”
  • “Don’t spend all your time chasing the wrong rainbow. If you determine that a project will not work like you thought it would, let it go. Knowing when to throw in the towel is also a form of execution intelligence.”

Our experience would support all three of these statements. Working with a client recently, they came to the realization that the complexity of their action plans were hurting strategic plan progress. By simplifying the solutions, the organization became more engaged as it was clear what action was needed. They also experienced more adaptability by employees as they were more willing to adjust course in order to achieve the outlined action. Another client had for several years tried unsuccessfully to build lost share in a once leading brand. It was not until they re-examined their end game that they realized there were alternate strategies to achieve their objectives and time to let go of regaining lost share.

A final word from Harvey McKay. “Many brilliant ideas have been thought up already, but the real genius is being able to put them to work practically. Many people know – or claim to know – what to do. They just never get it done.”

At Albu Consulting, we have committed ourselves to helping our clients become execution intelligent (XQ). Strategy execution is an organizational skill that can and should be learned and will set you apart from the competition. Let us know if you feel your company has the execution intelligence required to meet and exceed your goals.


Posted in Leadership, Newsletter, Strategy Execution.