Stephen Covey, The Execution Gap

by | Business coaching, Business Videos, Creativity

Stephen Covey died this week at age 79. He was identified by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans.  His book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” sold more than 20 million copies. In this video comparing children’s soccer to our work environment he describes the reasons for the ‘execution gap,’ the inability of a company to turn high level goals into action.

Why is there a breakdown in the execution of a company’s goals? Covey gives the results of a study done by the Harris Polling Group.

  • Only 15% of employees were able to identify their company’s goals and priorities.
  • Only 19% bought into those goals and took ownership of them.
  • Only 49% of people’s time was spent on company goals (the rest was spent on urgent distractions).
  • 51% of the employees didn’t understand what they were supposed to do in their own positions to accomplish the company goals.

When my kids were young and playing soccer it looked just like this video. We called it bunch ball. All the kids bunched up around the ball kicking in different directions with no/little strategy and coordination. So I laughed when I saw this. Then I thought about many of the companies I’ve known throughout my career. Lack of communication, duplication of effort, misalignment between departments, criticism and blame, lack of responsibility, defensiveness, extra cost, rework, customers caught in the shuffle, hurt feelings and unrealized expectations – sounds like bunch ball to me. Thank you Stephen Covey for leaving the world enriched with your understanding.


Please let us know below your experience with the execution gap. Was/Is it present in your organization? How does it show up? How has it affected you? What has your organization done about it? Thanks for sharing your stories.

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


She can be reached at:

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