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Disciplines of Execution

I won a book last year at the leadership summit called "The 4 disciplines of execution" and have been reading it since and am almost done. I recommend it highly if you are managing teams and working towards your wildly important goals. Some key takeaways that I would like to share:

1. Focus on the wildly important
2. Act on the lead measures
3. Keep a compelling scorecard
4. Create a cadence of Accountability

The whirlwind as described by Chris and Sean the authors of the book is your day to day stuff that will keep you and your team from the wildly important goals. In my personal opinion as the authors suggest for organizations it is extremely difficult to define one or two goals. Either the list is too long and hardly any of the change or cultural dials can be moved, or goals get added along the way that deviate your energies from what was defined as the most important.

Leaders often focus on lag measures. Lag measure is already a past metric and is used if a particular goal has been achieved or not. It usually measures the result. The lead measure is or needs to be predictive and influence-able. Lead measures are indicators of whether the lag measure will be achievable or not. If you do not measure how will you move the rock (lag measure).  How do you choose the right levers to achieve leverage?  Finding the right leverage and critical points or processes to push are perhaps the toughest and intriguing challenges leaders finds themselves in.

The 4DX principle as the authors acronym for the disciplines states a compelling scoreboard is very important after the lead measures have been identified. When the team and individuals keep score the game is played very differently.  They state "to drive execution you need a players' scoreboard that has  a few simple graphs on it indicating: Here's where we need to be and here's where we are right now. In five seconds or less we can determine we are winning or losing?" Engagement drives results - when a person feels her or she is winning it is a powerful driver.

Finally create a cadence (I like that word) of accountability. In regular meetings ask "What are the one or two most important things I can do this week to impact the lead measures?".  These meetings are WIG sessions that avoid discussions on the whirlwind tasks and keeps the focus on goals and projected oriented initiatives.  Patrick Lencioni in his book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job describes three reasons individuals disengage: anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement.  The book talks about top notch car designers who were passionate to work in a dream automobile design team.  All of them got to be on this team and the only one thing they wanted with their lives was designing cars; yet the level of engagement at this automobile firm and this team was the lowest.  All three of Lencioni's observations were visible first the designer's original work changed so much the product originator was forgotten (anonymity). Secondly the product gets released years after the designers worked on it (irrelevance) and thirdly the evaluation of performance were extremely subjective (immeasurment).

Structure and creativity together produce engagement as eminent brain scientist Dr. Edward Hallowell discovered, true to what John Lasetter at Pixar once said in his context "When disciplines of individuals in a team who bring art and engineering meet magic happens" .  Creating accountability structures that yield engagement and true commitment produce extraordinary results.

More observations to come...good book... worth reading!!


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