4DX : Execution Framework
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What is 4DX?
The 4DX framework, an abbreviation of the term "4 Disciplines of Execution", was developed by Sean Covey. 4DX proposes that most organizations exist within a complex whirlwind of activities, priorities, to-do’s, and other work that makes up “the day job.” 4DX aims to help leaders and employees cut through this whirlwind and focus on achieving goals.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important The discipline of focus requires you to go against your basic wiring as a leader and focus on less so your team can achieve more.
Discipline 2: Act on The Lead Measures The discipline of leverage requires you to identify and act on the measures that are predictive of reaching your goal and that can be influenced by you and the team.
Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard The discipline of engagement requires you to create a players' scoreboard so that members of the team can easily tell whether they are winning or losing.
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability The discipline of commitment requires you to hold regularly scheduled team meetings where members make and keep commitments to each other to execute on the wildly important goal.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important
A wildly important goal (WIG) is a goal that can make all the difference. You're going to commit to applying a disproportionate amount of energy to it.
In determining your WIG, don't ask "What's most important?" Instead, begin by asking "If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?"
Whether your WIG comes from within the whirlwind or outside it, your real aim is not only to achieve it but also to then make the new level of performance a natural part of your team's operation.
Focusing the Organization
No team focuses on more than two WIGs at the same time. The key is not to overload any single leader, team, or individual performer.
The battles you choose must win the war. The sole purpose of WIGs at lower levels in the organization is to help achieve the WIGs at higher levels.
Senior leaders can veto, but not dictate. While the senior leaders will undoubtedly determine the top-level WIG, they must allow the leaders at each level below to define the WIGs for their teams.
All WIGs must have a finish line in the form of X to Y by when. Every WIG at every level must contain a clearly measurable result, as well as the date by which that result must be achieved.
Tip : Focus your finest effort on one or two goals that will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals. Execution starts with focus. Without it, the other three disciplines won't be able to help you.
Discipline 2: Act On The Lead Measures
While a lag measure tells you if you've achieved the goal, a lead measure tells you if you are likely to achieve the goal.
For example, while you can't control how often your car breaks down on the road (a lag measure), you can certainly control how often your car receives routine maintenance (a lead measure). The more you act on the lead measure, the more likely you are to avoid that roadside breakdown.
We call them lag measures because by the time you get the data the result has already happened. A lead measure is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure will also change. A lead measure is also influenceable; it can be influenced by the team.
It's the data on lead measures that enables you to close the gap between what you know your team should do and what they are actually doing. Without lead measures, you are left to try to manage to lag measures, an approach that seldom produces significant results.
Defining and Tracking Lead Measures If you are serious about your WIG, then you must create a way to track your lead measures. Without data, you can't drive performance on the lead measures; without lead measures, you don't have leverage.
Lead Measures and Engagement Coming up with the right lead measures is really about helping everyone see themselves as strategic business partners and engaging them in dialogue about what can be done better or differently in order to achieve the WIGs.
Shooting for the Moon
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy shook NASA to its foundations when he made the pronouncement “land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth before this decade is out.” When the team moves from having a dozen we-really-hope goals to one or two no-matter-what goals, the effect on morale is dramatic. If you can throw that switch, you have laid the foundation for extraordinary execution. When Kennedy said to the moon and back by the end of the decade, he threw that switch.
Discipline 3: Keep A Compelling Scoreboard
People Play Differently When Keeping Score
The third discipline is to make sure everyone knows the score at all times so that they can tell whether or not they're winning. This is the discipline of engagement. If the lead and lag measures are not captured on a visual scoreboard and updated regularly, they will disappear into the whirlwind.
People disengage when they don't know the score.
Great teams know, at every moment, whether or not they're winning. They must know, otherwise, they don't know what they have to do to win the game. A compelling scoreboard tells the team where they are and where they should be, information essential to team problem solving and decision-making.
When team members themselves are keeping score, they truly understand the connection between their performance and reaching their goal, and this changes the level at which they play.
Four questions to create a compelling scoreboard
Is it simple? Think about how many pieces of data the coach is tracking on the sideline. Coaches need this data to manage the game, but the scoreboard on the field shows only the data needed to play the game.
Can I see it easily? It has to be visible to the team. The results become personally important to the team when the scoreboard is displayed where it can be seen by everyone.
Does it show lead and lag measures? The lead measure is what the team can affect. The lag measure is the result they want.
Can I tell at a glance if I'm winning? If you can' tell within five seconds whether you're winning or losing, you haven't passed this test.
The 4 Disciplines and Team Engagement
Many believe that engagement drives results, and so do we. However, we know now that the results drive engagement. Nothing affects morale and engagement more powerfully than when a person feels that they are winning.
People will work for money and they will quit over money, but many teams are filled with people who are both well paid and miserable in their jobs.
A winning team doesn't need artificial morale-boosting. All the psyching up and rah-rah exercises companies do to raise morale aren't nearly as effective in engaging people like the satisfaction that comes from executing with excellence a goal that really matters.
Discipline 4: Create A Cadence Of Accountability
Where execution actually happens
The fourth discipline is to create a cadence of accountability, a frequently recurring cycle of accounting for past performance and planning to move the score forward. Discipline 4 is where execution happens. Disciplines 1, 2, and 3 set up the game but until you apply Discipline 4, your team isn't in the game.
This is the discipline that brings the team members together.
In Discipline 4, your team meets at least weekly in a WIG session. This meeting lasts no longer than 20 to 30 minutes, has a set agenda and goes quickly, establishing your weekly rhythm of accountability for driving progress toward the WIG.
Here's the three-part agenda for a WIG session and the kind of language you should be hearing in the session:
Account: Report on commitments. "I committed to make a personal call to three customers who gave us lower scores. I did, and here's what I learned..."
Review the scoreboard: Learn from successes and failures. "Our lag measure is green, but we've got a challenge with one of our lead measures that just fell to yellow. Here's what happened..."
Plan: Clear the path and make new commitments."I'll meet with Bob on our numbers and come back next week with at least three ideas for helping us improve."
To prepare for the meeting, every team member thinks about the same question: "What are the one or two most important things I can do this week to impact the lead measures?"
The WIG session should move at a fast pace. The WIG session also gives the team the chance to process what they've learned. You should often ask each team member "What can I do this week to clear the path for you?"
Each commitment must meet two standards:
The commitment must represent a specific deliverable.
The commitment must influence the lead measure.
If you simply tell your team what to do, they will learn little. What you ultimately want is for each member of your team to take personal ownership of the commitments they make.
A Different Kind of Accountability
The accountability created in a WIG session is not organizational, it's personal. Instead of accountability to a broad outcome, you can't influence, it's accountability to a weekly commitment that you yourself made and that is within your power to keep. When members of the team see their peers consistently following through on the commitments they make, they learn that the people they work with can be trusted to follow through. When this happens, performance improves dramatically.
The WIG session encourages experimentation with fresh ideas. It engages everyone in problem-solving and promotes shared learning. 4DX produces results not from the exercise of authority, but from the fundamental desire of each individual team member to feel significant, to do work that matters, and, ultimately, to win.
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