The following is a summary and guide that I have compiled from the book The Four Disciplines of Execution. We have implemented this and it has produced great results. Here is a link to the 4DX site: and a link to purchase the book on Amazon. See the end of the post to download your user guide.
Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goals (WIG)
WIG: A WIG is an acronym for a “Wildly Important Goal”. A goal so important that not achieving it makes other achievements inconsequential.
Ask yourself: If every other area of our operation / my performance remained the same what is the one area where change could have the greatest impact?
The WIG can come from within the whirlwind i.e. fixing or improving something, or it can be something new outside the whirlwind. The organization will set a WIG (example: increase revenues from 10MM to 15MM by year end) and then teams within the organization will have WIG’s that support the overall WIG (improve sale conversion from 10% to 12% by year end)
- No team should set / focus on more than 2 WIG’s at the same time
- The battles you choose must win the war (organizational WIG)
- DON’T ASK: What are all the things I must do to win this war
- DO ASK: What are the fewest battles necessary to win this war.
- Sr Level leaders can veto but not dictate what the sub WIG’s
- WATCH OUT! The level of engagement in creating the WIG will = the level of commitment to achieving it.
- All WIG’s must be in the form of X to Y by when.
Discipline # 2: Act on lead measures
Lead Measure: The measure of an action planned and taken as a means to achieving a WIG
Great teams invest their best efforts in those few activities that have the most impact on the WIG’s. These are called the lead measures. Achieving your WIG is like trying to move a giant rock Its not a question of effort. Effort isn’t enough. Lead measures act like a lever making it possible to move that rock. Ultimately the lead measures that your team chooses is their strategic bet that moving them will move the WIG.
Lead measure tests:
- Must be predictive of achieving the WIG
- Must be influence-able by the team
Watch out! Lead measures are the most difficult aspect of 4DX
- They can be counter-intuitive. Most leaders are used to looking at lag measures
- They can be hard to keep track of.
- They can look simple with a precise focus on a single behavior.
Two types of lead measures.
- Small outcomes focus the team on weekly or daily results but give members of the team latitude to choose their own method.
- Leveraged behaviors focus on specific behaviors from the team member.
(deciding which lead measure to use will depend on your team)
Discipline # 3. Keep a compelling scoreboard.
Discipline #3 is the discipline of engagement. Even though you have defined a clear and effective game in disciplines 1 and 2, the team won’t play at their best unless they are emotionally engaged and that happens when they can tell if they are winning or losing.
- People play differently when their keeping score. If you’re not keeping score you’re just practicing.
- A coach’s scorecard is not a players scorecard. A coach’s scorecard is complex. A players scorecard is simple. Think of a basketball game. The coach is keeping track of all sorts of data on things like field goal %, steals, blocks, 3 pointers, etc, etc. The players scoreboard is simple. It shows a handful of measures that indicate to the players at a glance if they are winning or losing the game.
- The purpose of the scorecard is to motivate the players to win. Watch Out! The more the team is involved in designing the scoreboard, the more likely it will instill their ownership.
Discipline #4. Create a Cadence of Accountability
This is the discipline of accountability. Even though you’ve designed a game thats clear and effective, without consistent accountability the team will never give their best efforts to the game. This is done with WIG sessions. A WIG Session has a singular purpose: To refocus the team on the WIG despite the daily whirlwind. It takes place regularly, at least weekly and sometimes more often. It has a fixed agenda as follows:
WIG Session Agenda
- Review. Leader to review the scoreboard.
- Learn from successes and failures.
- Report. Each team member to report on last week’s commitments.
- State the commitment
- State its outcome
- Plan: Clear the path by removing obstacles and make new commitments that will raise the lead measures to the required level of performance the coming week. Leaders should guide the team in making commitments that have the highest impact using the following guidelines.
- One or two high impact commitments at most
- Specific. Exactly what will you do and what is the outcome?
- Should start with “I”. Its a personal commitment.
- Timely. Must be able to be competed in the coming day / week.
- Must be directed at moving the lead measures on the scoreboard.
Watch Out! Common pitfalls
- Competing whirlwind responsibilities. Don’t let the whirlwind in the WIG Session.
- Ask how will completing this will affect the scoreboard? Stick to specific outcomes.
- Repeating same commitment more than two weeks
- Accepting unfulfilled commitments
Over all, this is an awesome book and a great way to help build businesses. I have put together a user guide for you to use to start implementing these steps in your business. It is filled with questions that you should be asking yourself and your staff, and ways to tell if you are using the steps to your fullest potential.