The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey & Jim Huling

The 4 Disciplines of Execution offers a set of practices to help leaders successfully execute strategies that require a lasting change in the behavior of their team or organization. It draws from the experiences of renowned leaders who have confronted the common challenge of getting their teams to change their behavior in order to achieve their goals.

Summary Notes

Focus on the Wildly Important Goal

Research in neuroscience has shown that the human brain can only devote full attention to one task at a time. Attempting to concentrate on multiple tasks simultaneously can overwhelm the brain's processing capabilities. That's where the "4DX" principle by Chris McChesney comes in, which suggests that focusing on one or two critical, wildly important goals (WIGs) can help us achieve the best possible results.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was the perfect example of someone who incorporated this principle. He was famous for his ability to narrow down his focus to just a few "wildly important" products, which led to the company's success.

If you want to achieve that same level of success, it's important for the leader to provide strategic guidance in defining the WIG, while also involving team members to increase their engagement and commitment. When it comes to the team's WIG, it's crucial to assess its impact based on the overall WIG's nature. For example, if the overall WIG is a financial goal, the team's WIG should be ranked in terms of potential revenue, profitability, investment performance, cash flow, and/or cost savings.

To create meaningful team WIGs, there should be a clear connection between the team and the organization's overall WIGs. A credible measurement should also be in place from the start to ensure that the game is meaningful.

Actions to take

Act on Lead Measures to Achieve Lag Measures

Lead measures are the things you do to get closer to your goal, while lag measures tell you if you have achieved it. Unlike lag measures, lead measures are within your control, which is why Discipline 2 encourages you to identify the daily or weekly activities that will get you there.

The good thing about lead measures is that they are predictive and can be influenced, making them critical for achieving a Wildly Important Goal (WIG). For example, if the production manager of a plant identified two lead measures to increase water production and the team dedicated significant effort to these measures, they're highly likely to have a greater increase in water production than expected.

So basically, lead measures are like a lever that can help you move closer to your goal. But to get there, you must be willing to do things you've never done before.

Actions to take

Motivate Team Members with a Players' Scoreboard

Having a clear and visible scoreboard is essential for any team to track their progress and make informed decisions. You want something that's easy to understand and shows both the things you're doing to get to your goal (lead measures) and whether or not you've actually reached your goal (lag measures). Plus, you want to be able to tell right away if your team is succeeding or not.

A great example of this is an event management company that used a mountain goat to represent the performance needed each week to achieve their goal. This allowed them to easily see if they were winning or losing and other important aspects of the team’s performance.

When creating a scoreboard, it's important to ensure that it is simple, visible, and regularly updated. This scoreboard should not only show your team's current progress, but also the goal you're striving for. And the more visible the scoreboard is, the more the team will stay connected to the goal.

Experts like Frederick Herzberg, Teresa Amabile, and Steven Kramer have all talked about how seeing progress is a big motivator for people. When you feel like you're making progress towards your goal, it makes work a lot more satisfying. So, having a good scoreboard isn't just useful for tracking progress - it can also help motivate the team to keep pushing forward!

Actions to take

Create a Cadence of Accountability

Achieving success in any organization requires accountability, which involves more than just a yearly performance review; you also need to regularly assess your past performance and make plans to improve. That's why establishing a weekly accountability system is crucial for achieving goals.

One way to maintain accountability is by having weekly improvement goal (WIG) sessions. It's basically a weekly meeting, where team members report on their commitments from the previous week, review the scoreboard, and plan for the coming week. This meeting should only last for about thirty minutes and have a specific agenda. It should also be held on the same day and at the same time every week and must be considered sacred.

By maintaining consistency with these meetings, you can create a sustained rhythm of high performance and accountability. The whole point of the WIG session is to review the commitments you made previously and make new commitments that will help move the WIG scoreboard forward. It's a great way to stay on track and achieve your goals!

Actions to take

Hire Internal Coaches

To ensure the success of 4DX, leaders must be fully committed and equipped with the necessary skills before leading a WIG session.

Having an internal 4DX coach is essential for the success of the installation, as they provide guidance and support to 4DX leaders. The ideal coach needs to be passionate about the role and have the skills to fulfill it well. Ultimately, the coach's ability to influence people is more important than their formal authority.

Actions to take

Change Your Life and Accomplish Goals By Using the 4DX System

4DX is a system that is not only designed for organizations but can also be applied by individuals to reach their goals.

The first step is to set a wildly important goal (WIG), followed by selecting a lead measure. Once these are in place, tracking progress with a scoreboard and reviewing it weekly for 30 minutes to set new commitments is crucial.

Jami, a mother who aimed to limit weight gain to 36 pounds during her pregnancy, is an excellent example of someone who uses the 4DX system. She chose walking 10,000 steps daily as her lead measure and hung a scoreboard on her bathroom mirror to monitor progress. Her family soon became involved in the process, and she strengthened her relationships with her husband and children. Ultimately, she accomplished her WIG and delivered a healthy baby boy.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning