This is a Book Summary of The 4 Disciplines of Execution
In life and business, we want so badly to reach major goals and milestones. However, it seems within a few weeks of setting our Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) we get lost in the everyday whirlwind of life. Phone calls, emails, sickness, national and local politics, time-wasters, social media, hobbies, and bad habits, not to mention other family and personal responsibilities – they all take time and focus away from reaching our Wildly Important Goals. In this summary, I will explain the four disciplines that are necessary to get out of the whirlwind and accomplish the WIG!
What is your Wildly Important Goal?
You can only pick one (OK, if you have two, that’s fine). What are the WIGs that you want to accomplish this year? Be S.M.A.R.T. with your goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). (For example, “I will lose 25lbs by December 25th, 2020” is a smart goal, while I will lose weight this year is not a smart goal). What is your WIG?
Brainstorm for three minutes anything and everything you can think of that keeps you from reaching your goals in life. Be specific.
The 4 Disciplines
Now that you have your WIG and you understand the battle you face from your whirlwind, it’s time to apply the four disciplines of execution to reach your WIGs.
Discipline #1 – Focus on the WIG
When I was a youth pastor, I set goals in December that I wanted to accomplish the following year.
Each year I had grand plans for reaching new goals and achievements; yet often I would get sucked into the whirlwind of the daily life, family life, and the various/simple responsibilities. What’s more, I had some bad habits that sucked the motivation and commitment right out of me. I vividly remember one morning walking into my office, going to my desk, and logging into a sports website to look at sports scores for the first 30 minutes of my day. After reflecting on this poor habit of time management, I realized I had been doing this for a very long time: wasting my most productive part of my day with meaningless sports trivia. Not only that, but I took a hard look at my office – it was filled with various sports memorabilia of my favorite teams – my office was more of a Man Cave then a place of high performance and productivity.
The next week I replaced 90% of the sports stuff with bulletin boards and whiteboards. I posted my goals on the wall and established plans and steps for reaching my yearly WIGs. In those early days of ministry, I wasn’t hitting 100% on my goals, but I was doing exponentially better with the adjustments I made.
What are your WIGs? Are you focused on them or are you focused on the daily distractions that suck your energy from achieving your goals?
What will you do to focus in on your WIG? (What distractions do you need to remove?)
Discipline #2 – Act on Lead Measures
Not too long ago I was introduced to a business model of Lead & Lag Indicators or measures.
I suspect that in most churches, we became very good at following the LAG measures. Each month the church leaders gathered for the monthly board meeting and reviewed the LAG measure: how many visitors came to church, how many people attended Sunday Service, Small Group, and Wednesday Prayer meeting? How much was given in the offering? These are all LAG measures because once you share them, you ‘LAG’ the ability to change them.
It’s good information but it is incomplete information.
That’s why we need to discuss the LEAD measures – what vital behaviors are you doing that will improve the LAG measure. It could look like this: How many people in the neighborhoods around the church did we invite to the Sunday service? How many from the Sunday Service did we ask to stay for the Sunday School hour? How many from the Sunday School hour did we ask to join a small group, to get baptized, to give to a special need, a project, or a missionary? These are LEAD indicators and there is enough research to demonstrate that the more specific LEAD indicators we invest in the LAG measures will move in a positive direction.
It’s like a funnel. If I ask 100 people in the neighborhood around the church to come and try a Sunday service, then at least 1-2% of those neighbors will come to church – they just need to be asked. Salespeople get this. We miss 100% of the sales we don’t ask for!
LEAD measures are the small, vital behaviors you can do that will get you one step closer to achieving your WIG. As you invest in your LEAD measures you will reach your WIG.
(e.g. Perhaps your WIG is that you want to see Sunday Attendance at your church go from 200 to 500 by the end of the year. Your LEAD measure would be: HOW MANY PEOPLE DID YOU PERSONALLY INVITE TO CHURCH THIS WEEK?
KEY POINT, you will need to determine the HOW MANY you need to personally invite each week. This number might be fluid from week to week, but it is a number you are in control of. The LAG measure happens the next week: How many visitors did we have last week?)
What are your LEAD and LAG measures?
What LEAD measures do you need to implement to reach your goal?
Discipline #3 – Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
As I said earlier, I am a sports fan. I remember from my childhood watching a game on TV with my dad and constantly asking how much time was left in the game, how many timeouts my team had and what the score was? This was vital information that I didn’t have back then. Why? There was no ESPN yet and there was no image on the bottom of the screen with the scoreboard. I couldn’t see it so I didn’t know if I should be nervous or excited. Think of this in terms of watching a High School soccer game where the field has no scoreboard. The game is being played and the fans that are there are cheering the teams on but it’s not too compelling. If you look around you will see many of the fans talking to each other and probably feeling a bit relaxed.
However, take the same game and add the scoreboard with a running clock, period or quarter, and the score for each team and the crowd becomes more engaged. I did the same thing early on in ministry; when I arrived at my office I had no scoreboard so I got distracted by the whirlwind around me.
Once I invested in bulletin boards and whiteboards and began to track the progress of my goals, I started to see actual progress on the goals.
What do you need to keep score of to stay on track of your WIG?
Where will you post the scoreboard so you and your team can see it daily and update it?
Discipline #4 – Create a Cadence of Accountability
The final discipline is to create a consistent structure of accountability. When I was a pastor, I was very successful at raising money for our mission trips. One of the keys to the success was the compelling scoreboard (We need to raise $xxx by June 1st and we currently have $xx in the bank). The other key was to have weekly accountability with the team on their LEAD measures for raising the money. Each week I would ask the team: how many support letters did you write? How many cans did you collect? How are we doing on the ___ fundraiser coming up? What do we need to do this week to prepare us for the next month’s bake sale?
Every Monday, I sent out a letter to each team member explaining to them where they stood with their fundraising efforts and what they needed to do to accomplish their WIG. In a business setting, I would do it differently (but the principle is the same).
I would have two weekly WIG meetings (one with my boss and one with my managers). The meeting would be on the same day every week, at the same time every week, and would last about the same amount of time
Here is how I set my accountability expectations:
- Every Monday at 9:30am I will meet with my Boss for 30 min. to discuss the weekly WIG plan.
- Every Tuesday at 9:30am I will meet with my managers for 30 min. to discuss the weekly WIG plan.
- In the weekly meeting, we will discuss three main points.
- Review the LEAD and LAG measures from the previous week
- Assess where we currently are in accomplishing our WIG by looking at the scoreboard
- We will assign new tasks for the week ahead to make needed adjustments in reaching the WIG (e.g. The missions team ran out of support letters so I will make 500 copies of the support letters by Friday this week).
Creating these meetings, keeping them on the calendar, and then holding each other accountable to the assignments will create a rhythm for your team to stay out of the whirlwind and focused on taking the baby steps needed to reach your WIG.
Who do you need to meet with weekly to create your Weekly WIG Meeting (there should be two meetings, you with your supervisor, and you with your direct reports)?
What day and time will you meet with these two teams?
You have your WIGs and you are focused on them. The decision is yours on reaching your goals – they won’t be handed to you. Will you remain focused? Will you be disciplined in working your Lead Measures and reviewing your Lag measures? Will you direct your entire team to the scoreboard? Will you create a weekly WIG meeting to review, assess, and plan for the next week?
If you have the discipline, you will execute it!
Give Terry Porter a call and he will help you clarify your WIGs, create a plan to reach them, and coach you through the whirlwind. Terry is available for executive and team coaching, and business/management consulting.
Email: [email protected]
McChesney, C., Covey, S. Huley, J. (2014). The 4 disciplines of execution: How to achieve your wildly important goals. New York: Free Press.