How often have we made schedules yet never complete the tasks we set for ourselves or our teams?
How many to-do lists go by with things unstruck off?
How many hours have we spent in making that perfect plan or that strategy that we thought will kick some serious ass?
But where we always fail is executing that perfect plan.
In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, ‘ Ideas are shit execution is the game’, and I couldn’t agree more.
While planning is essential, if plans do not get implemented, results will never come.
So what is it that can help us execute better and minimize procrastination or complacency?
Enter 4DX or The Four Disciplines of Execution
These were penned down by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling in their book with the same name.
This technique will help you decide what and how to focus on getting shit done and eliminate the ‘whirlwind,’ i.e., the chaos that keeps you busy but doesn’t yield much.
Discipline 1: Focus on your W.I.G.
When there is a lack of focus, everything seems urgent. While one tends to the urgency, there might be a chance that important things get missed in such a whirlwind.
Thus, the first discipline requires you to write down your one Wildly Important Goal or the WIG.
How to know your WIG?
The one Goal, that, if and when accomplished(at the present level of performance), makes other things seem secondary, is your WIG.
You do cater to other urgent and lesser important goals but with the minimum effort and focus the majority of your effort and time on the WIG.
Your WIG should be very clearly defined, specifically in the form of ‘from X to Y by Z.’
E.g., Increasing the lead conversion rate from 30% to 60% by next year.
If you are working with a team, it is essential for each member to know the WIG.
Discipline 2: Acton Lead Measures
The second step is setting up the right performance measures for you to determine your progress.
Lag measures are something that implies backward-looking and describe your progress in the account of what is lagging at a holistic level.
But, the 4DX wants you to act on Lead Behaviours instead. These are like KPIs but very predictive and forward-looking.
E.g., Measuring how much weight you have lost in the initial weeks of your programme is a lag measure. Whereas the number of times per week you exercised is a lead measure.
Lead measures are something we can influence and act on daily, unlike lag measures which are backed by past.
Another example is of measuring sales. 4DX says you count the no. of calls you did, or emails you write and not just the revenue that came in at the end.
Discipline 3: Keep a Scoreboard
If we are not reminded frequently how you are doing, we might lose interest in the task. Just like any sport. It is essential to have a visible scoreboard that maintains the ‘Will to Win.’
Franklin Covey says, “ People and teams play differently when they are keeping score, and the right kind of scoreboards motivate the players to win.”
It needs to be put up at your workplace pointing out clearly if you are winning or your losing that would be determined on your lead measures and your lag measures. If your sales calls have consistently increased or the hours spent exercising have gone up, and there is a reduction in your weight you are winning.
A compelling scoreboard is the one which is:
- Showing Lead and Lag Measures
- Able to point out win/loss at one glance
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
The methodology suggests sitting down with your team and having a review of the past week in terms of your actions. This makes us accountable. The study will be used to recognize successes, analyze failures and give space for feedbacking hence any course correction if needed.
These face to face meetings need to be regular for a person to be supported by the team and also kept accountable. The intense feeling to honor your word and keep up to what was promised the previous review meet fuels execution.
It does not have to be complex or narrowly focused, but only simple enough to drive performance by instilling public accountability.
Because no kidding, we have performed better if our reputation was at stake.
I would leave you with just the thought that without execution, ideas are worthless.
If you swear by this methodology which a lot of entrepreneurs and leaders have recognized to be useful, you can find your way out of the whirlwind and win at your WIG.