In 2012, a trio of authors changed the landscape of management with the release of their book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.” Written by FranklinCovey Global Practice Leader Chris McChesney, FranklinCovey Executive Vice President of Global Solutions and Partnerships Sean Covey and managing consultant Jim Huling, the book quickly rose to The New York Times’ best-seller list by inspiring millions of readers with a proven method for success.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution are as relevant to business today as ever. FranklinCovey suggests that managers are critical to the process of execution, which can break down in instances where teams and employees don’t know what their goal is, don’t know how to achieve a goal, don’t track their steps toward success and don’t hold themselves accountable. By applying these disciplines to your day-to-day operations, you can improve the productivity of your business and execute when it’s most important.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important
According to Covey, "focusing on the wildly important requires you to go against your basic wiring as a leader to do more, and instead, focus on less so that your team can achieve more." FranklinCovey’s research suggests that only 15 percent of employees know what the most important goal of an organization is, which is largely attributed to a lack of goals or an overwhelming number of them. To counteract this, it is suggested that you set one wildly important goal for your business. When you determine what that goal is, make sure that every member of your team is familiar with that goal, ensuring that all of their works applies toward achieving it.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
It’s suggested that 20 percent of activities provide 80 percent of all results, which creates a need to place greater emphasis on so-called lead measures. These measures, according to FranklinCovey, are essentially the cause to an effect known as the lag measure. A provided example is weight loss: dieting and exercise are lead measures that predict and create the lag measure through direct action. Lead and lag measures should connect with your wildly important goal, for example, your lead measure might be a dedicated marketing campaign that creates the lag measure of increased customer satisfaction or retention, which aligns with your WIG to grow your business into a franchise.
Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
It’s important that the steps you take are measurable for your team, so Discipline 3 focuses on creating engagement with the progress toward your wildly important goal. An effective scoreboard lets your employees know if they are winning or losing the proverbial game, displaying where you are at currently with respect to your WIG and where you need to be to achieve it.
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
FranklinCovey is quite blunt about the importance of the final discipline: “Disciplines 1, 2 and 3 are nothing more than a formula for creating a winnable game. Discipline 4 is how we play that game.” The tempo of your cadence of accountability is the frequency with which you have meetings with your team to update them toward the progress of your wildly important goal. These meetings should occur at least every week if not every day and should not exceed 20 minutes time. During these gatherings, you need to make sure that you are holding your team accountable and that they are holding one another and themselves accountable.
These meetings should revolve around a simple question: “What are the one or two most important things I can do this week that will have the biggest impact on the scoreboard?” When the meeting adjourns, every member of your team should be committed to acting on the answer, which will help them move the scoreboard in a positive direction, create positive lead and lag measures and build toward the achievement of that wildly important goal.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution can help your business achieve at a greater level and build a strong morale in the office. Following these steps and familiarizing your employees with their importance will prove a useful tool in breeding success of multiple levels.