(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about OCC click here...)
The 4 Disciplines of Execution
1. Focus on the wildly important
2. Act on the lead measures
3. Keep a compelling scoreboard
4. Create a Cadence of Accountability
Fifteen years ago a Harvard business professor asked us two questions: What do leaders struggle with more—strategy execution? Are they educated in business planning or execution?
We believe the hardest thing a leader will ever do is execute a strategy that involves changing human behavior. People resist change even when it’s good for them.
One of the chief developers for Lockheed-Martin said the hardest thing was doing anything that involved a change in the behavior of the engineers.
We don’t admit our own failures and mistakes and tend to blame the people around us.
Edwards Demming (father of the quality movement) said “Anytime the majority of the people behave a particular way the majority of the time the problem is not with the people.”
Execution is harder than strategy
Execution that involves changing behavior is the hardest
We can’t blame the people
There are four disciplines of execution
Focus/ Leverage/ Engagement/
Discipline 1: Focus on the wildly important
--goals in addition to the whirlwind (load up on 2-3 and you’ll get 2 done; load up on 4-10 you’ll get 1-2 done; load up on 11-20 you get even less done)
Those 11-20 goals are based on good ideas but you’ll have to say no to some good ideas
There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute.
Separate in your mind the energy needed to maintain the operation from what you need to execute on
What lives at the corner of Really Important and Not Going to Happen On Its Own?
WIG = Wildly Important Goal -- what makes it wildly important is the treatment you are going to give it -- Example of goal of increasing membership from 750 to 1000
Identify Key Battles--What are the fewest number of battles necessary to win the war?
Example of NASA space race to the moon—battles: navigation; propulsion; life support -- Don’t go big, go narrow --
Rules for Discipline 1
1. Fewest battles necessary to win the war
2. One WIG per team at the same time
3. You can veto, but don’t dictate (people have to have their say but they don’t have to have their way)
4. A WIG must have a Gap (from X to Y by When) starting line-finish line-deadline (when deadline for space race to the moon was given, morale and engagement at NASA was at an all-time high)
Execution doesn’t like complexity.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
Lead measures are predictive and are influenceable by the team
Example of weight loss: Need to know number of calories in and number of calories expended (difference between knowing the thing and knowing the data behind it)
Bad news—data is hard to get
Good news—it’s like solving a puzzle
Bad news—they’ll forget everything in 3 days
Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
“People play differently when THEY are keeping score.”
You need a players’ scoreboard not a coach’s scoreboard
--highly visible to players
--have the right ‘lead’ and ‘lag’ measures
Number one indicator of engagement is whether a person thinks they are winning.
Do the people who work for me feel like they are playing a winnable game
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
WIG Session meeting each week--
--Weekly Commitment: In a meeting every person answers “What are the things I can do that will have the biggest impact on the lead measure?” Put that into your schedule.
--Report on last week’s commitment
--Review and update scoreboard
--Make commitments for next week
This is stuff that you can’t put in a strategic plan. In a moment, urgency always trumps importance.
It’s not about dictating; it’s about creating a winnable game.
The rules, the natural laws for execution, turned out to be the same as the laws for engagement.