Execution is Everything

Execution is Everything

"No company has failed because of other companies. They’ve failed because of poor execution."
- Melanie Perkins, CEO and co-founder of Canva

This week I was reading a great article written by The Information about the story of Canva and the CEO and co-founder, Melanie Perkins. In it, Perkins stated, "No company has failed because of other companies. They’ve failed because of poor execution." It set me on a path thinking about how many businesses fail and how failure is not about poor execution, but ultimately about poor executive hiring.

In the article, The Information also surfaced an old recruiting deck, designed by Perkins and her team, when in their earliest days they were working to recruit David Hearnden to lead engineering. What stood out for me was not the creative pitch, but the effort the full team put into recruiting their top candidate. They understood that to execute on their vision they needed a great engineer and collectively they prioritized recruiting him into the role.

Too often we see executive recruiting take a back seat to day-to-day business priorities but it can be the top reason companies fail to execute.  Here's where they go wrong:

  • Cancelling meetings: People want to be recognized and wanted. The continuous shifting of calendars is a signal to your candidate that the position is not a priority. Many candidates take this as a yellow flag during the interview process and will decide not to press forward with the opportunity.
  • Not responding to emails or texts: The follow-up thank you gets sent, and the CEO or hiring manager doesn’t respond. This, again, represents a yellow flag in the candidate’s mind, leaving them questioning where they sit as a candidate and how important this role is to the company.
  • Long processes: Every day counts. It counts in how you work and it counts in how you recruit. There are a number of companies I have worked with where the recruiting process runs too long, for numerous reasons, leaving the candidate fatigued and questioning the CEO's priorities and the company’s work culture and ability to execute.
  • Aligning and educating existing leadership: The leadership team is oftentimes part of the recruiting and interview process but unfortunately, they have not been briefed on the job spec or do not have an understanding of the requirements for position they are interviewing for.  This can result in a poor interview and neither party getting the details they need to evaluate.
  • Not paying up: Top candidates want top compensation and it is important to not be short-sighted with designing compensation bands. Flipping this around, when candidates get egregious with their asks and don’t understand market compensation or are not looking at the offer holistically, it is a quick turn-off to the company. Both sides need to be educated on market value and be reasonable when designing a smart compensation package.

A business will always face challenges, be it marketplace shifts or new competition. Perkins is right; what sets a business apart is how they execute but great execution comes from great teams and great teams are built when executive recruiting is prioritized.