A solution to finding that elusive ‘strategy breakthrough’

Credit to Author: BEN KRITZ, TMT| Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2019 16:30:09 +0000

FranklinCovey’s Chris McChesney is bringing his innovative ‘4 Disciplines’ system to Manila

EVERYBODY understands what a goal is, and agrees that goals are important to the success of any organization. Almost every organization has more than one goal, and assumes, probably correctly, that achieving its goals will define its success.

The formula that “strategy leads to achieving objectives” is not at all a mystery, so why do so many organizations find it challenging to translate strategy into execution?

Execution is the focus of The 4 Disciplines of Execution (Free Press, 2012) by FranklinCovey’s Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling.

The central problem, as the book explains, is that while many executives certainly understand the meaning and importance of “focus,” few actually know how to execute it effectively. “There are always more ideas than there is capacity to execute,” said lead author McChesney. In most organizations, McChesney explained, “We promote intelligent, ambitious people, and these people always want to do more, not less. But execution really requires the discipline of restraint when it comes to how much you can actually do, and how much the organization can actually handle.”

McChesney, who is FranklinCovey’s Global Practice Leader of Execution, will be in Manila on February 27 to conduct “The Power of Creating a Winnable Game,” a one-day strategy execution workshop on the “4DX” system designed for organizational leaders and executives. Venue of the seminar is the New World Hotel in Makati City.

Struggling against “the whirlwind”

Another big reason effective execution seems so difficult, McChesney continued, is that “the ‘day job’ of maintaining an operation sucks so much energy from everyone, that doing anything new — even though on paper, or philosophically, the new thing is so important — it never feels in the moment as urgent as the day job.”

In the book, the day-to-day urgency that exerts such a “gravitational pull” on people in the organization, as McChesney described it in our interview, is referred to as “the whirlwind.” The book shares a comment from a senior executive that will surely feel familiar to many leaders: “We don’t have dragons swooping down and knocking us off our priorities. What we have are gnats. Every day we have gnats getting in our eyes, and when we look back over the last six months, we haven’t accomplished any of the things we said we were going to.”

What is your organization’s WIG?

That kind of experience is exactly what 4DX is designed to solve. The book is careful to explain that the four disciplines are a set of principles, not practices; they are meant to work together as a sort of “operating system” with which the organization can run any program to achieve its “Wildly Important Goals” or WIGs:

Focus on the Wildly Important — A WIG, as the book defines it, is something that most would recognize as “a step up” for the organization, or “taking things to the next level” — a goal that expands the capabilities of the organization beyond its present competencies. “You use the disciplines on an area where you need a breakthrough and you’re stuck,” McChesney explained. A WIG in that sense “is the one part of the strategy that is really important, and [the organization] is just not good at it,” he added.

Act on the Lead Measures — “Lead measures are quite different in that they are the measures of the most high-impact things your team must do to reach the goal,” the book explains. What they are actually measuring are changes in behavior that, if successful, are reflected in various ways, including improvements in the lagging measures (such as financial performance) that most companies use to quantify their success.

Use a Scorecard — “If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing,” McChesney writes in The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Because the principles are concerned with organizational behavior, not only does the scorecard serve the practical purpose of measuring progress, it serves as a motivational tool. “The 4 Disciplines is a very involvement-oriented process,” McChesney said. And because it is, the team itself can develop its own scorecard. As the book points out, “People play differently when they are keeping score. It’s not about you keeping score for them.”

Create a Cadence of Accountability — The book reveals a shocking statistic drawn from the extensive research conducted by McChesney and his FranklinCovey colleagues: “A staggering 81 percent of the people surveyed said they were not held accountable for regular progress.” This is an area where the scorecard is vital: It encourages team members to create their own commitments, and thus they become primarily accountable to themselves, or their close-in group, which makes accountability a key part of the organization’s culture.

McChesney, who has been with FranklinCovey for more than 20 years, spent over 10 years researching thousands of case studies with his
team to develop The 4 Disciplines of Execution. The book quickly reached number 1 on The New York Times’ bestseller list for business books, and since its introduction in 2012, its principles have been implemented by some of the world’s biggest companies. Over 2,000 Marriott hotels use the 4DX system, according to McChesney, and have tracked more than five million individual commitments to date.

Other notable adopters of the 4DX system include Carnival Cruise Lines, the Hilton group in its European and EMEA markets, and in this part of the world, the Bank of Indonesia and Transport for NSW, the public transportation system for the city of Sydney, Australia and the surrounding area.

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