April 15, 2020

Knowledge Nuggets: The  4 Disciplines of Execution

April 15, 2020

Knowledge Nuggets: The  4 Disciplines of Execution

Business Strategy, Ashton Bishop, Knowledge Nuggets

Everyone has the capacity to come up with good ideas. But a great idea without proper execution is useless. If there’s one thing you should know about acting on a great idea, it is the fact that there will be chaos involved. 

You will have to wade through a quagmire of priorities and goals. And it is very easy to lose focus. This is why you will need a game-plan. Let’s take a look at the 4 Disciplines of Execution by authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling.

Insight: Organisations that know how to properly execute on their goals will have a greater chance of success.

Data:  According to research by the University of Scranton 92 percent of people that set New Year's goals never actually achieve them. ( Inc.)

What’s the step change: Focus on developing the core principles of execution and achieve your goals. Download the Knowledge Nuggets: 4 Disciplines of Execution PDF to learn more.


Knowledge Nuggets 8


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The Whirlwind

According to authors, the greatest challenge in executing on good ideas and goals is the whirlwind. The whirlwind is the chaos of day to day life. 

It’s the endless stream of day-to-day tasks and problems that impede your overall progress. The whirlwind is extremely difficult to manage and it can overwhelm you and prevent you from focusing on your key ideas and goals. 

This is why the author’s created the 4 Disciplines of Execution. With this game plan, you will be able to withstand the power of the whirlwind and finally focus on the work that really matters.

Discipline #1 -Focus on your WIG

The first discipline is to focus on your WIG or Wildly Important Goal. In the whirlwind you will have to deal with a myriad of tasks and problems. They will spring out at you and it is very easy to get overwhelmed. This is where the first discipline comes in handy. To focus on your WIG, means to narrow your focus. 

This does not mean that you should ignore the tasks necessary to maintain your operation. It just means that you focus on the key aspects of your work that you want to improve. 

When you choose a Wildly Important Goal, you should identify the most important objective that won’t be achieved if you don’t give it special attention. In other words, your day to day tasks won’t help you achieve these goals. 

To define a WIG you will need to identify the key concepts:

  • Where you are now
  • Where you want to be
  • By when?

By focusing on your WIG, you will be able to have a single measure of success. This is the first step in your overall game-plan. 

Discipline #2 -Act on the Lead Measures

When you are working on your key goals, your success will be based on two kinds of measures. They are the Lag and Lead measures. 

Lag measures: They track the success of your WIG. They are measures that have already passed. And because they have already passed they can no longer be influenced by the team.

Lead measures: Predict the success of the lag measure and can be influenced by the team.

One common example of these measures being used is weight loss. When it comes to losing weight, proper diet and exercise are necessary. This is the lead measure. It is something that you can influence.

Your weight and waistline counts as your lag measure because it cannot be fully influenced because it takes time for you to achieve them. And if you fixate on only the results, you will have a hard time getting started. 

This is why you should fully focus on your lead measure and not fixate on your lag measure. By keeping track of your food intake and exercising on a daily basis, you will be able to directly influence your work and push your WIG forward. 

Discipline #3- Put up a Scoreboard

People work or play differently when they are keeping score. Lead and lag measures won’t really mean that much to the team unless they can see the progress in real-time. 

Take for example, a group of teenagers playing a pickup game of basketball. If they are just shooting hoops and not really competing against one another, you will see a certain lackadaisical quality to their movements.

They are not that focused nor are they as competitive with one another. But once they start keeping score, the players will usually play harder and strive to outscore the other. 

This is because working on a goal is not that compelling if you can’t see the effects of your work. So if you want your team or organisation to fully commit to a goal, it is very important that you keep score and show your team how their work affects the outcome of a project or goal.

Discipline #4 - Cadence of Accountability

The cadence of accountability is a rhythm or series of team meetings wherein team members focus on the WIG. During these meetings the players will hold each other accountable for commitments made to move the WIG. These meetings usually last no more than 20 minutes. 

One by one team members make commitments to move the WIG forward. Throughout the meeting, the team will answer the key question. 

What are the one or two most important things I can do this week that will move the WIG forward?

In the meeting members will make the following report.

  • If they met last week’s commitments.
  • If their commitments moved the lead and lag measures.
  • What their commitments are for the coming week.

And because the team makes a commitment and they see that their work impacts the overall success of the WIG, they will strive harder to do their part. 

Download our Knowledge Nugget on The 4 Disciplines of Execution:



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