Everything You Need to Know About Execution: Lessons From Donald Miller at BMSU

As the CEO of Business Made Simple, Donald Miller, says, “execution is the art of getting things done.” In the end, the success of an organization relies on execution. It doesn’t matter how well-liked a team member is or how many great ideas they can brainstorm if things aren’t actually getting accomplished.

In this overview on execution according to Donald Miller, you will learn how to implement a repeatable series of actions to get things done and ensure your team is prioritizing execution as much as you are.

Get Everyone on the Same Page

The first thing Donald suggests when putting a new plan, project, or initiative into action is to hold a launch meeting to discuss the project’s scope with the entire team. He shares the following 4 steps you can take to make an effective launch meeting:

  1. Set a clear view of success. How will you know when you’ve achieved the goal?
  2. Assign the leaders. Make sure every aspect of the project has a person in charge.
  3. Identify the resources needed. Don’t just hope things will fall into place as you go.
  4. Create a timeline with key milestones. Make your own map so you know how much progress you’re making.


By the end of a launch meeting, everyone should know what the team is trying to accomplish, when it needs to be accomplished, and what they are responsible for specifically. As Donald says, “what you’re up against is the fog of fuzzy priorities,” and following the above steps helps everyone get a clear image of the work in front of them. https://mainyardstudios.co.uk/?p=3661&preview=true

A One-Pager for Everyone

To help team members keep track of their top priorities at all times, Donald Miller recommends that each employee use a one-pager that includes the ‘clear view of success’ that was talked about in the launch meeting as well as lists of both the department’s top five priorities and each individual’s top five priorities. 

This one-pager method helps everyone stay on top of their own work and make decisions about what to prioritize in the workday. To make this technique even more valuable, a manager can meet with each team member weekly to go over their one-pager and talk about progress and roadblocks.

Weekly Meetings: “Speed Checks”

Reconvening with the whole team at least once a week allows time for questions to be answered and for people to bring up any concerns about the current priorities of themselves or the team. Donald says that this meeting should be short and succinct as you go through a set checklist, and even recommends doing it while standing to avoid wasting time.

Donald also suggests going through three review statements and three questions during this brief meeting. The review should simply cover the ‘clear view of success’ statement again and go over the priorities of both the department as well each individual. After these three things are covered, you can ask the following questions:

  1. What has each team member gotten done?
  2. What is each team member going to do next?
  3. What’s blocking any team member from making progress?

In a crisis situation or in the midst of a chaotic time for the organization, you may want to perform speed checks daily, because as Donald says, they “create momentum,” to get things done.

Keeping Score and Tracking Progress

“People need to measure their progress in order to be happy and healthy,” Donald remarks. This is true both in everyday life and in the professional world. If we aren’t going forward, where are we going? Measuring and keeping scores on a physical and visible scoreboard can boost morale and energize a team by giving them proof of progress.

To create a scoreboard that focuses on KPIs (key performance indicators), Donald suggests sitting down with each team member or department head and analyzing their specific priorities. Then, you can break those priorities down into repeatable tasks that contribute to reaching the goal. He recommends keeping the number of things you measure at or below three, as adding more can cause confusion about priorities and be hard to remember. 

Make a Big Deal Out of Victories

Victories deserve to be celebrated. When your team experiences a win, Donald suggests highlighting two main things in the celebration: the accomplishment of the tasks, and the positive transformation of the individuals. This helps people recognize that they have grown and increases their confidence. As Donald says, “we need to notice the wins, memorialize the wins, and acknowledge those who are responsible.”

On the opposite side, it is also important to not celebrate “almost wins” or near victories. Doing so makes the actual accomplishments or meeting of goals seem less exciting and important, which strips the dignity of a true win. Donald Miller notes that it is also important for us to remember that sometimes, “being disappointed because we did not hit a goal is just as important in life as celebrating a victory,” because they both teach us valuable things. 

Positive intentions only go so far—eventually, there needs to be action. Execution is the secret ingredient to success, and if you can master it effectively, you can achieve anything.