How to harness the 4 Disciplines of Execution to achieve WIGS – Part 2

We’ve already talked about WIGS, those Wildly Important Goals that need to be teased out of the tangle of potential tasks, the projects most worth focusing on. But once you’ve identified them, how do you actually get them done? Let’s explore the 4 Disciplines of Execution. These ideas, as mentioned in our Part 1 of thes two blogs come from The 4 Disciplines of Execution by C. McChesney, S. Covey and J. Huling.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

Discipline 1 – Focus on the Wildly Important

The idea behind discipline 1 is to focus on less to actually get more done. Especially as we all operate within a whirlwind of everyday activity. There’s always more to do than there is time to do it.

Picking a WIG means you consciously pin down the most important objective, the one thing that won’t happen without special attention. Carrying on as normal won’t get it done. So choose one Wildly Important Goal and leave the rest. It doesn’t mean letting everything else go. It’s about narrowing your focus to tackle the most significant task of all.

Discipline 2 – Act on the Lead Measures

Once your people know what to concentrate on, they feel different about the goal they’re aiming for.

A lead measure tells you how likely you are to hit the goal. ‘Lead’ is the opposite of ‘lag’, lag being a measure of a WIG’s success, things like income, profit, and customer happiness. By the time you see a lag, it’s already history.

A lead measure tracks the activities that drive lag, predicting the lag measure.

Make a note not to end up obsessed by a lag you can’t influence. It matters because lags are so much easier to measure, clearly representing a positive result. In fact your lead measure is the one with the most influence over the WIG.

Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

You need to know where you are, and that means keeping score to motivate people. They’ll want to see real-time progress to keep them keen, and the third discipline is all about engagement. When you’re fully emotionally engaged, you perform your best. And you can’t engage fully unless you know the score – are you getting there or not?

Don’t get bogged down with a complex scoring method. Think about the people who’ll be motivated – or not – by it. Keep it simple and impactful. Maybe ask those involved how they’d like to keep track.

Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability

When you’re accountable you feel responsible. So how do you drive the feeling? Frequent, regular, short team meetings are the way ahead, designed to highlights success, analyse why things haven’t worked so well, and change course when you need to. Get it right and the result is a powerful, collaborative performance management approach.

While the first three disciplines involve preparation, this one is all about the execution. The team responsible for a WIG meets at least once a week. Members review their commitments from the previous meeting, check the scoreboard, then create new, specific commitments for next time.
Two things are essential. First, it is best to make sure that the meeting takes place at the same time, every time. Second, you will need to leave the whirlwind at the door no matter how pressing it feels!

How come this is such a powerful way to motivate teams? Because people prefer to make commitments to their own ideas rather than ideas handed down from above. When they do, their commitment is greater because it’s a more of a personal promise.

When people see their efforts are having a real impact on the WIG, engagement improves even more, and morale is strengthened. The result is a virtuous circle where vital things get done by people who are more motivated and involved.