Recently, I received an excited phone call from a client/friend who was attending a large national conference. Kent was chomping at the bit to share with me about the contents of a seminar he had just attended titled "The 4 Disciplines of Execution." He felt sure that what he had learned was going to really help him with his company's implementation of System100.
System100 is software our company designed and developed to systematize businesses of all types—to give owners sustainable control over their operations.
Kent has been one of our most successful businesses, with regard to implementing the software, and he's ever-motivated to move to the next level by continuing the improvement process. During the Conference seminar, Kent was able to purchase the course book, "The 4 Disciplines of Execution," by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. I promised Kent I would also purchase the book and report back to him with my assessment.
This is what I learned from reading "The 4 Disciplines of Execution:"
"The 4 Disciplines of Execution" is actually a SYSTEM for achieving whatever goals you want or must achieve. The book is a MUST READ for everyone who has trouble staying on a system or implementing goals.
For those who tend to procrastinate—for some strange reason, never seeming to finish one goal or project before moving on to the next—I believe this book may be of help.
Entrepreneurs are famous for starting one project after another, as they see opportunity around every corner and it’s their nature to want to do it all!
I wrote an earlier blog about that very thing, titled "The Butterfly Effect." So, what are the four disciplines of execution?Discipline 1
—Focus on your Wildly Important Goals ("The 4 Disciplines of Execution" book calls them "WIGs")Discipline 2
—Act on the Lead MeasuresDiscipline 3
—Keep a Compelling ScoreboardDiscipline 4
—Create a Cadence of AccountabilityDiscipline 1—Focus on the Wildly Important
By focusing on your company's most Wildly Important Goal, you avoid the pitfall of putting too much on your or another's plate, that tends to cause little or nothing to get completed or implemented. Sound familiar?
How much of your MIS (Management Information System) have you implemented in your business? This is your Estimating, Job Tracking, Finished Goods, Floor Data Collection, etc., software. If you are like most businesses you implemented less than 20 percent of the software's capabilities.
You might want to read another blog I wrote, titled Getting "What You Paid for with Your MIS."
"The 4 Disciplines of Execution" book talks about the work you do daily in your business, calling it the "whirlwind" and suggesting that it's pretty much incurable. This whirlwind
, the books says, keeps you from completing your goals. "The 4 Disciplines of Execution" was written to help business owners focus on and accomplish goals in spite of the daily whirl.
In my book, "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," I explain this as being bogged down in day-to-day operations, for many companies, just plain old chaos
. The main goal of our book is to help companies minimize the “whirlwind” by bringing order through systemization—one system at a time.
"The 4 Disciplines of Execution" book tells owners that, instead of focusing on the whirlwind
, you need to focus on one, but no more than three WIGs (Wildly Important Goals) at a time. In other words, begin with one main WIG.
How do you eat an elephant (your main WIG)? One bite at a time!Discipline 2—Act on the Lead Measures
What the heck are Lead Measures? Lead Measures are WIGs that are broken down into measurable targets or actions that move you toward that main Wildly Important Goal. The key word here is MEASURABLE. The famous systems guru, W. Edwards Deming, said, and I paraphrase, "If you don't measure a process, you really don't know if it's working the way you expect."
"The 4 Disciplines of Execution" book states that you MUST create and implement a SYSTEM to measure/track your Lead Measures, to see if they are working and moving the "Lag Measure,"
which measures your WIG.
What is a Lag Measure?
A Lag Measure is the measurement that lets you know if you are winning or losing the battle—the accomplishment of your WIG. "The 4 Disciplines of Execution" book gives examples of Lag Measures, like stepping on a scale to measure your weight, or reading a monthly P&L statement for your business. Discipline 3—Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
Keep a scoreboard like at a football game so everyone can see the progress with just a glance. Remember, in school, the anticipation of receiving your report card every six weeks? It helped you to know if you where failing or moving forward to the next grade, and toward winning the ultimate WIG—your graduation.
Discipline 4—Create a Cadence of Accountability
This is the one you need to be careful with, as the word accountability
can take on a negative connotation if not handled with caution by team leaders. The book suggest that, without a steady tempo of accountability, there will always be things team members know they should do, but never accomplish with real consistency.
You set up this "cadence of accountability" with WIG sessions, a minimum of once per week. These should be short, no longer that 20- to 30-minute meetings. With commitment and consistency, you will form good habits.
In the beginning of my "System Busters"
book, I talk about commitment as a decision. Without the decision to make a commitment to a goal, odds are, you won’t do it.
This is just a brief overview of "The 4 Disciplines of Execution" book, along with a few of my own thoughts. I hope I peaked your interest. I believe reading the book will help keep you, as a leader, on track to successfully implementing your own Wildly Important Goals.
Did I mention? Great systems work!