4 ways to turn great strategy into effective execution

25 Aug,2015


By Anita Kotwani


Strategy without Execution is Hallucination. In today’s competitive environment staying ahead of the curve is a challenge that is faced by most companies. And when you are one of the top ones, you have to be that much more nimble. As organisations, we tend to focus on crafting strategies for the year; what we also need to really balance, is ensuring that we execute those strategies. At Mindshare West, we have been inspired by the book, ‘Four Disciplines of Execution’ by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling, to imbibe this learning. The results have been astounding, changed the way we need to think as an organisation and, most importantly, has helped us institutionalise excellence.


The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing on your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the ‘Whirlwind’. By following the 4 Disciplines, leaders can produce breakthrough results. But while 4DX represents a new way of thinking and working that is essential to thriving in today’s competitive climate, at the heart of this is a behavioral change that also requires a commitment from the team, despite the daily grind.


The real enemy of execution is the massive amount of energy that’s necessary just to keep your operation going on a day-to-day basis. The 4 Disciplines aren’t designed for managing your whirlwind, but for executing your most critical strategy in the midst of the whirlwind. Here’s what the book says about each of the 4 Disciplines –


Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG)

Focus your finest efforts on one or two goals that will make all the difference to your businesses. Execution starts with focus. The idea is to spend disproportionate energy on the WIG — the one area where the change would have the greatest impact. This needs to be ensured across the organisation, across disciplines and also across teams.


Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures

While a lag measure tells you if you’ve achieved the goal, a lead measure tells you if you are likely to achieve the goal. We call them lag measures because by the time you get the data, the result has already happened. A lead measure is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure will also change.


Discipline #3: Keep a compelling scorecard

The third discipline is to make sure everyone knows the score at all times, so that they can tell whether or not they’re winning. This is the discipline of engagement. If the lead and lag measures are not captured on a visual scoreboard and updated regularly, they will disappear into the whirlwind. People disengage when they don’t know the score. And a ticking scoreboard keeps the momentum going within the team.


Discipline #2: Create a cadence of accountability

The fourth discipline is to create a cadence of accountability, a frequently recurring cycle of accounting for past performance and action planning to move the score forward. Discipline 4 is where execution happens. Disciplines 1, 2 and 3 set up the game; but until you apply Discipline 4, your team isn’t in the game. This is the discipline that brings the team members all together. In Discipline 4, your team meets at least once a week in a WIG session. This meeting lasts no longer than 20 to 30 minutes, has a set agenda and goes quickly, establishing your weekly rhythm of accountability for driving progress toward the WIG.


We at Mindshare West have started on this journey as a team and are truly inspired and motivated with the results and goals that it has help drive as a team. It has seen results that have been astounding, changed the way we need to think as an organization and most importantly it has helped us institutionalize excellence.  To us as a team, 4DX represents a new way of thinking and working that is essential to thriving in today’s competitive world.


Anita Kotwani is Leader, Client Leadership at Mindshare


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