The 4 Disciplines of Execution- Book Summary

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling is about how to set strategic, Wildly important goals and drive the behavior change required to achieve them. It is based on 4 basic principles that over-arch the entire book. To me they make a ton of sense and I can see that this could be extremely powerful to drive change if executed properly. The 4 Disciplines are as follows:

  • Discipline 1: Focus on the wildly important- create a WIG that is focused, must be achieved, and limited to one or two items. Our finest effort can only possibly go to one or two WIGs at a time. They should always be structured in the format of “shift x to y by when”.  There are also several keys to proper implementation of the first discipline:
    • No team focuses on more than TWO WIGS at a time.
    • The battles you choose must win the war- WIGS at lower levels must help achieve WIGS at higher levels.
      • For example, if we have the WIG- to go from $15M to $200M in LED sales by 2020 (X to y by when). The Battle wigs could be:
        • Increase throughput to maximize capital utilization
        • Create design standards for scalability of products
        • Sales force…
        • Maximize current product profitability by ….
      • All of the above battle WIGs support the larger goal of $200M
    • Senior leaders can veto, but not dictate- pg. 36
    • All WIGs must have a finish line in the for of X to Y by when
    • It must be winnable
  • Discipline 2: Act on the lead Measures
    • Leading measures MUST BE PREDICTIVE AND INFLUENCEABLE 
    • Leading measures can be counterintuitive/difficult to track. They are not specifically measures of success, but if chosen correctly will be able to drive lagging indicators.
    • examples of leading indicators:
      • PM/PM Checklists
      • 8D’s completed
      • Projects completed
      • Project days
      • Standups attended
      • Cell meetings attended
      • You must create a way to track your lead measures
  • Discipline 3: Keep a compelling scoreboard
    • Everyone knows the score at all times
    • You can tell in 5 seconds if we are winning or losing
    • People play harder when you are keeping score, and it means something. Players scoreboards are always simple. Think of sports, you can easily tell who is winning. The coaches scoreboard is the more complex tracking of stats…etc.
    • The people using the scoreboard need a hand in making it.
    • The people playing must keep score themselves.
    • A compelling scoreboard is laid out like this: page 69
      • WIG -are we winning or losing on our lagging indicator
      • Lead measure 1
      • Lead Measure 2
    • Keys to a compelling scoreboard:
      • Is it simple
      • Can i see it easily- HAS to be visible to the team. Visibility also drives accountability
      • Does it show lead and Lag measures?
      • Can i tell at a glance if i am winning? <5 second rule
      • Example on page 72
    • Play to win vs playing not to lose is the mental shift you get when you create a scoreboard of a winnable game.
      • Gives people job satisfaction when they have an opportunity to experience achievement.
  • Discipline 4: Create a cadence of accountability
    • Until you apply D4, your team isn’t in the game you have set up so far.
    • Cadence should never be less than weekly!!!! sometimes as often as daily (standup)
    • Must happen even if the leader is out for the day/week
    • The whirlwind is not allowed in the WIG session
    • AGENDA:
      • Account: Report on commitments
      • Review the scoreboard: learn from successes and failures
      • Plan: Clear the path and make new commitments
    • Everyone should go to the meeting knowing next week’s commitments. Everyone must be prepared, the person leading the WIG session needs to make sure the commitments are not in the whirlwind and will IMPACT LEAD MEASURES. pg. 84
    • Commitments must be specific: never “work on” or “Focus on” as these are too vague.
    • 3 reasons people disengage from work
      • Anonymity- They feel their leaders do not know or care what they are doing
      • Irrelevance- they don’t understand how their job makes a difference
      • Immeasurement – they cannot measure or assess for themselves the contribution they are making.
    • Employees will start to see how they are moving the needle if they are driving the lead measures and making + keeping commitments.
    • Accountability to their peers that is created in WIG sessions is an even greater motivator of performance for most individuals than accountability to their boss

 

Section 2 of the book is how to install the disciplines into your team. They are disciplines, or universal and timeless principles. I am not going to outline the entire section since it would be nearly pointless. I made a ton of good notes in the copy I have that I will refer back to in the future. Here is a data dump of the thoughts:

  • D1
    • Make sure the WIG is achievable
    • WIG is the outcome, not the “how”
    • We should write all rocks in WIG format X to Y by when
  • D2
    • Lead measures can be counterintuitive
    • Lead measures can be hard to keep track of
    • Lead measures often look too simple
    • Two types of leading measures:
      • Small outcomes- focus the team on achieving a weekly result- safety compliance score of 97% each week
      • Leveraged behaviors- track the specific behaviors you want the team to perform during the week- ensure 95% of all associates wear safety boots every day
    • You can track individual performance or team performance
    • you can track the lead measure daily or weekly: 5X per week or 1X per day
    • Start with a VERB: Make $2M… Raise our win rate…. Increase inventory turns…
  • D3
    • Visible, Accessible, Continually updated
    • The players are keeping score
    • Simple, examples on pages 157-160
    • Have the team make it theirs: artwork drawn by a teammate….
    • 5 second rule for winning/losing
    • Update at least weekly, it should be very clear, who is responsible for it, then it will be posted, how often it will be updated.
      • Simple
      • Visible
      • Complete- the whole game is shown: Lag/Lead/Lead pg. 165
  • D4
    • Singular purpose: to refocus the team on the WIG despite the daily whirlwind
    • Account: report last week’s commitments
    • Review Scoreboard: learn from successes and failures
    • Plan: clear the path and make new commitments (1-2 commitments per week)
    • This is a bit of a form of PDCA
    • Examples of WIG sessions on pages 176-178
    • High Impact Commitments:
      • One or two
      • most important
      • “I” – make sure they are personal responsibilities
      • “This Week”
      • “performance on the scoreboard”- must be directed at moving the lead and lag measures
    • All Commitments must meet the following standards:
      • Specific
      • Aligned to moving the scoreboard
      • Timely
    • Accountability for unfulfilled commitments: page 184-185
      • Demonstrate respect- everyone on this team understands how hard you worked…
      • Reinforce Accountability- without you we cannot reach our goal
      • Encourage performance- last week’s commitments plus this weeks new commitments
    • Keys to successful WIG sessions
      • On the schedule
      • Sessions are brief -no more than 20-30 minutes
      • Set the standard as the leader- report on your own commitments
      • Post the scoreboard
      • Celebrate the successes
      • Share learning
      • Refuse to let the whirlwind enter
      • Clear the path for eachother
      • Execute in spite of the whirlwind
    • D4 Requires real skill and a degree of precision in making and keeping important commitments

Section 3 was about implementation. There were several case studies that talked about the success. I will touch on a couple of the brief takeaways I thought were good:

  • Design your implementation to fit your culture.
  • Realize its harder to implement the 4 disciplines in an organization that is already successful.
    • You may need to have a “pilot” division that implements it and makes everyone else want to know what the special sauce is.
  • The senior leader must focus on holding all leaders accountable
  • Make sure you have the infrastructure to support your implementation
    • should you hire 4 Disciplines coaches
    • Coaches can help you grow your own internal experts
  • Remember implementing the 4DX will raise the engagement of your team
  • Success breeds success
  • Acknowledge the whirlwind with your team, it will gain you needed credibility
  • Keys for leaders: page 231-234
  • Question to ask: “If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, which area would we want to improve the most?” otherwise you get a never ending debate on safety, throughput, 5S, etc… from everyone who thinks their priority is the best.
  • 3 sources of organizational WIGS
    • Financial WIGS
    • Operational WIGS- most leadership teams focus here initially
    • Customer Satisfaction WIGS
  • From Mission to WIG flow chart on page 239
  • Question: ” what is the fewest number of battles to win the war?”
    • How many battles are there? How many do we need to win?
    • Opryland example page 242
  • what does work: pg 253+
    • 4DX is a process, not an event
    • Must be implemented with intact teams
      • not Finance, Divisions
    • 4DX must be implemented by the leader
  • There is a leader certification
  • 4DX installation process- Pages 255-259
    • Clarify overall WIG
    • Design team WIGs and Lead Measures
    • Leader Certification
      • Scoreboard Design
      • WIG session skills
      • Launch Meeting preparation
    • Team Launch- Leaders schedule meeting that lasts about 2 hours
    • Execution with coaching
    • Quarterly summits- leaders report to their senior leaders on progress and results in the presence of peers- crashes + compliments?
  • If we are really serious about this we should consider getting a 4DX coach/leader certifications.
  • Commonly asked questions- Page 263+
  • 3 most common challenges:
    • performing consistently on lead measures
    • keeping scoreboard current
    • attending WIG sessions
  • Use consistency and a “quick win” to get fast buy-in from the team
  • Reward the team
    • public recognition
    • team celebration- ice cream/pizza/etc.
  • Stay the course- there will always be more good ideas than bandwidth to execute
  • MFG example on pg. 279- project delays due to lack of involvement by team members trapped in the whirlwind
  • There is power in public accountability

Overall I found this to be an extremely powerful and leverage-able book. I feel like if implemented properly a team can drive results effectively. Once again the 4D’s are

  • 1- 2 Wildly important goals- specific, timely measure-able
  • Drive the leading indicators
  • Create a compelling scoreboard
  • Create a cadence of accountability

RG

 

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