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The 4 Disciplines of Execution

Hello, this is Rick Gray, I wanted to write a short blog on a book I read, and have been training some others on. It’s called THE 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION. It is really a system, or an order of events, if you will, to achieve high level goals. Consistently achieve your high level goals.

The first Discipline is: FOCUS ON THE WILDLY IMPORTANT. This means you must prioritize your GOALS. They say, “Wildly important”, because there are a lot of goals that we may have. There are a lot of things we would like to do. There’s always more good ideas than there is time to do them. It’s like the book GOOD TO GREAT, the enemy of the great is good. In order to achieve greatness in something, you’re going to have to say, “No” to a lot of good ideas, because you can only focus on one thing at a time. Really focus on the most important, the wildly important. That’s number one. That’s FOCUS. Decide exactly and clearly, what is your wildly important goal?

The second thing is: ACT ON THE LEAD MEASURES. There are two kinds of measures that we talk about. Lead measures and lag measures. Lag measures are things that are in the past, but they’re the easiest to measure. That’s where most people focus. Let’s just use an example about weight loss for illustrative purposes. Say you wanted to lose weight. A wildly important goal might be, I want to lose 20 lbs by June 1st. Today is January. So, by June 1st, lose 20 lbs that’s a wildly important goal. It has an X to Y by when. Where I am now “x”, where I want to be “y” and a deadline. There are 2 things to measure. The lag measure is the scale. I weigh 200 lbs right now. That’s a lag measure. The problem with lag measures is, they’re in the past. There’s nothing I can do to affect it. This is what I weigh. A business, a sales company, or any organization has a printout of how many sales you achieved in the last month. What was your revenue last month? How many houses did you list last year? How many homes did you sell last year? How much money did you make in the past 12 months? These are all lag measures. People focus on them because they are very important, number one. But number two, they are very easy to get. It’s very easy to step on a scale and see what you weigh. It’s very easy to pull up last month’s numbers or last year’s numbers and look at them. What’s a lot more effective is to focus, which is the second discipline, and act on the lead measures. Lead measures cause the lag measures. A lead measure has two qualities. It’s predictive of the goal that you want and it’s influenceable. Meaning something that you can affect, you can do. So take dieting, for example, or losing weight is what we are talking about, if I want to lose 20 lbs, what are two great universal lead measures? They would be diet and exercise. Caloric intake, how many calories am I eating, and how many calories am I burning? Most people don’t keep track of that. Most people keep track of, what do they weigh? The lag measure. The problem with that is, it’s in the past. Start keeping track and acting on the lead measures. For every wildly important goal you have, you need two lead measures. The reason you need to is, it is what we call a bet. We are betting if we do these things, eat less calories, burn more calories, that we’re going to hit our goal to lose 20 lbs by June 1st. This is a bet. Maybe we chose the wrong lead measures. If you only have one, you’re not going to hit your goals. Have two lead measures.

The third discipline is COMPLETE A COMPELLING SCOREBOARD: You have to know whether you are winning or losing every day, all of the time. The example I like to use is bowling. If you like to bowl, and we even pay you to bowl, but imagine we put a curtain across the alley half way down. You have no idea if you are hitting the pins or not. Even if you like to bowl and we even pay you for it, you will disengage very quickly. People disengage when they don’t have feedback. If you don’t know if you are winning or losing, you will disengage very quickly. Create a compelling scoreboard. It has to be simple, something you can look at and tell, am I on track or off track? Think of a football game. There are literally hundreds of statistics that are being tracked at any point during the game. Completion percentages, yards per carry, yards after contact, how many third down conversions is the team running vs passing, etc. Is all that stuff up on the scoreboard? Of course not. The coaches are keeping track of all of that. On the scoreboard, it’s the score, time left in the quarter, and how many timeouts, that’s about it. Three or four things. You can look at the scoreboard very quickly and see, am I winning or am I losing? You need to create a scoreboard for your goals, so you don’t disengage. That’s number three.

The fourth discipline is CREATE A CADENCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: What that means is, a regular rhythm of talking to someone, or meeting with someone about how you are doing. Are you moving the scoreboard closer to your goal every week? What we do in business is a weekly accountability meeting. This is what I did last week. Here’s where I am at, here is where the scoreboard is today, and this is my commitment for next week. Very simple. It’s an accountability where you know, and others know, where you are at in the process toward your goal. If you let yourself off the hook and do not have the accountability piece, none of this works. You can’t create accountability until you have a goal. They are very sequential. You have to do them in order.

Focus, number one, on the WILDLY IMPORTANT. Number two is, ACT ON THE LEAD MEASURES. Number three is, CREATE A COMPELLING SCOREBOARD to keep you engaged. People play differently when you are keeping score. That is a fact. If you are keeping score, you will be more motivated. Watch a group of kids from a block away, playing basketball. You can tell, without even hearing them, if they are keeping score or not. Their intensity, their aggressiveness, their celebration, their shot selection. There’s a lot of things you can tell in their body language to see if they are keeping score or not. People play differently when they are keeping score. Finally, CREATE A CADENCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY. You have got to have an accountability partner to keep you on track.

Have a great day! If you haven’t read it already, go get the book: THE 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION. It will improve your life.

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